In 1998, Peter Ouko was taken to Kamiti Maximum Prison in Kenya and was sentenced to death in 2001. His sentence would later be commuted to life imprisonment by Kenya’s former President Mwai Kibaki in 2009.
Through APP’s Justice Changemaker training programme, Peter was given the opportunity to study law and became the first inmate in Kenya to attain a Diploma in common law.
Peter later won his freedom in October 2016 and continues to support and advocate for those individuals who remain on remand.
Peter recently received a standing ovation at TEDGlobal for his relentless work and efforts to restore hope, justice and dignity to the prison justice system.
Peter now works with APP as an ambassador representing us worldwide.We recently caught up with Peter to find out what he's been doing since his release:How does it feel being free one year on? "It feels great to be home. I can run around in the rain. I'm no longer locked up at 6pm. I remember one of my happiest moments after my release was seeing the sunset. I hadn't seen the sunset for 18 years because sunset always found us in our prison wards. It's equally very humbling." Has your time in prison changed your outlook on life?"Definitely it has, every second counts. I now value time more, I love more and I take nothing for granted. I learnt to be cohesive; in prison everyone loves each other but out here you meet so many people who are only out to push their personal interests. I hope one day we can change the narrative, it only takes a few people to change the narrative from wrong to right." What impact has your freedom made to you and your family?"My family appreciates me more, I left young kids and now they're adults so we are trying to regain the lost time. However, I'm still unable to spend as much time with them as is expected because of work. Bills have to be paid! I also miss the genuine friends I left in prison, they are family. I would like to reunite with them someday."What does freedom mean to you in one sentence? "Freedom is responsibility."Since your release you have become an Ambassador for APP. What have you been working on over the last 12 months?"I have been helping inmates to trace their files, I've been working on building networks in courts and organisations that work in the criminal justice system. I also played a role in setting up a legal aid clinic in Naivasha. Lastly, I have continued to run 'Crime Si Poa' (crime is not cool) which is an organisation that I started in prison to mentor the youth and help inmates earn an honest income."Have you had any challenges reintegrating into the society? "Not quite. I never lost any friends when I went to prison, my friends and family know me and they know my innocence. Being in prison has also enabled me to make more friends, sometimes I'm invited to speak at corporate events. However, coming from a situation of dependency to self-reliance has been both challenging and rewarding. For instance, I wasn't used to paying bills but now I have bills to pay. You need to work smart to achieve."What have been your highlights over the past year?"Some of my biggest highlights have been reuniting with my family and friends, helping inmates' access justice through tracing some of their files and speaking at the TEDGlobal in Arusha this year." We heard you received a standing ovation at TEDGlobal! Did you ever see yourself being in that environment and how did it feel?"I actually went to the event as a guest and now a speaker. While at the event, a campaign pushing for me to speak was started by some of the TED members who I had earlier met at Naivasha Maximum Prison. I must say it was a once in a lifetime experience, I owe it all to God."After the experience of TEDGlobal, what are your proudest moments this year?"Attending my son's graduation last year. In my letter to the President whilst applying for the power of mercy, I requested him to release me just so I could attend my son's graduation. I was equally proud when we established the legal aid clinic in Naivasha because it's something that's close to my heart. I am also very proud whenever I search for a lost file and end up finding it. It gives me so much joy." Looking ahead, where do you see APP in the next 3 years?"I hope that in 3 years, APP will have established a law firm and a fully functional justice centre in Naivasha Maximum Prison which will continue to enrich and positively impact the entire criminal justice system in Kenya." What are your priorities now?"I want to help fundraise for APP's justice centre. I also want to graduate with my LLB from the University of London and to continue helping more people access justice." APP vision: what does this mean to you?"APP's vision encompasses all spheres of an inmate's rights, it's about dignity. I also ascribe to these values on an individual basis, I believe in justice and second chances for all."
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