Celebrating Lynn’s Release
After being sentenced to 6 years in prison at the Shanzu Law Courts, Mombasa, Lynn began offering basic legal advice to the less literate prisoners by simply helping them read through their witness statements and charge sheets.
“When I first got to prison, I found that many people were illiterate. They could not read or write.”
When APP introduced our Justice Changemaker Programme, which provides both legal education and legal services in prisons, Lynn was transferred from Shimo La Tewa Prison to Lang’ata Women’s Prison in order to receive paralegal training. At the time, Lang’ata Women’s Prison was the first women’s prison to pioneer APP’s programme.
Prior to her arrest, Lynn ran a beauty shop in Mombasa. She had never thought about prison. In fact, she knew very little about prisoners. Therefore, when she was arrested she was in denial. Six years later and at the end of her sentence, it still feels like a big bad dream.
Life in Prison
Anyone meeting Lynn for the first time at the Lang’ata Women’s Prison Legal Aid Clinic will tell you that she is very eager and committed to serve other inmates. Her passion for her work is evident each time she speaks about the impact of the legal services offered there.
“I have enjoyed doing paralegal work. It has given me a lot of fulfillment. Each time I handle a case and it is successful it makes me so happy. The people I have helped speak blessings to my life and this has sustained me.”
The work has equally been faced with challenges from time to time. For Lynn, her biggest challenge has been serving clients who do not have their charge sheets and witness statements with them. Therefore, making it very difficult for her to have clear facts of the case in order to offer the most appropriate legal advice. This forced her to turn down many clients, sending them back to look for their documents first.
According to Lynn, her time in prison has not gone to waste. She has learnt the importance of making every second count now that she knows the importance of freedom.
“I can’t believe it. I feel like I have been reborn. Sometimes I stay up at night just thinking about the life that awaits me. I want to start a fresh, prison has prepared me to face hardships.”
“I look forward to reuniting with my two children. I lost the bond between us. Each time my daughter visits me, she just cries. My son has never visited but we speak through the prison welfare phone.”
Her hope is that she will be able to get proper employment that will enable her to sustain her family and make up for the lost time.
After having seen many inmates spend long periods on remand awaiting trial, Lynn hopes that one day the justice system will speed up its processes. Many unnecessary delays could be avoided simply by issuing less adjournments - because of missing papers or unprepared cases. This would help many individuals with the loss of precious time.
Women in prison face many challenges. The separation from their families and children can be extremely traumatic. Lynn has seen that, in many cases, their spouses leave them and in turn, their children are left for the streets. Some of these children end up dropping out of school and having early pregnancies. This has caused many women to suffer from stress and depression while in prison.
Her advice to those she’s leaving behind is to take heart and to remain positive.
Support our Changemakers
Lynn was released on Thursday 2nd May. Like many of us, she had no experience of the justice system, until she was caught up in it. And once she had been arrested, she had no access to legal support until she was in prison and heard about APP’s work. Since then she has trained as a paralegal so that others can receive the support they need too. Without this most prisoners - in Kenya and Uganda - will never see a lawyer.
Could you support our work to empower others like Lynn and ensure that prisoners receive access to justice?