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Aug 9, 2017

Youths Hear Powerful Testimonies from Behind Prison Walls

The Belize Central Prison is bursting at its seams as the number of inmates stands at one thousand three hundred. Of that amount, four hundred and fifty-two are awaiting trial for crimes that range from petty offenses to murder.  Today, the Belmopan Police took a group of youths to the prison for a life lesson, hoping to discourage them from criminal activity.   The youths heard directly from the inmates about the hardships and horrors of life behind bars to show potential offenders that there are dire consequences to commit offenses. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Jamaican artist Jah Cure, in his ‘Prison Walls’ hit track, captures life behind bars and the impossible want to escape the repercussions of wrong decisions. It’s the sentiments shared by many prisoners serving time for anything from misdemeanors to major crimes. Currently, the Belize Central Prison is home to about one thousand three hundred persons, including Belizean and foreigners, who want out, but cannot break free from their sins.

It is a frightening reality for former B.D.F. Corporal, Rennick Baizar. The thirty-four-year-old says a single bad decision cost him his freedom, his career and his life as a father to his five children.

 

Rennick Baizar

Rennick Baizar, Inmate

“My addiction to alcohol start couple years after being ina the Belize Defense Force. I start drink wah lot, follow friends, no want deh home…you know the family time. Me and my ex-common-law get ina wah lotta confrontation, fights. And that dah weh cause her to get the protection order because she feel like her life ina danger.”

 

The inmates bared their souls, telling their darkest secrets from a place of hurt. A gripping testimony from Calbert Young of Belize City was overwhelming. The well-known entertainer, who started out dancing, was sentenced to eight years imprisonment for trafficking fifty-five pounds of weed. In the four years served so far, he lost his mother and uncle, but remained helplessly behind prison walls. Young says his dreams have been shattered.

 

Calbert Young

Calbert Young, Inmate

“I used to have dreams just like anyone of unu. I mi want be an entertaining ina my life. I mi got wah dance group weh mi reach very big ina life. I win majority contest ina Belize. I been pan Duets already with Channel Five. We win Summer Slam with Love FM; we win Masters of the Floor. I been deh up deh with society, but due to decision weh I make ina my life cause me to bring me down ina life; bring me down so low that I end up weh yo woulda call rock bottom. Me mi live home…and my ma body, my ma mi done dead ina the house three days. Three days meaning that fi she body done decomposed. When I get the phone call calling that my ma dead and ih done deh ina di house decomposed, meaning that yo got to go to funeral now. Now fi I see my ma last month dah jail come visit me and to have to go dah funeral without see ih face because dah closed casket. Doing time still…it mi very rough for a person like me get back from that.”

 

Andrew Talbert

Andrew Talbert is also serving an eight-year sentence at the prison for an unlicensed firearm conviction. He turns twenty-five later this month. Three years into his sentence, he’s realized the need to change his life because he doesn’t want to live in prison.

 

Andrew Talbert, Inmate

“I get charged fi wah Glock fifteen…I know unu noh know weh dah wah Glock fifteen. But from ’13 I done deh dah jail; right now we deh dah 2017. I done do four years and eight months out of my time. Almost time fi go home. But I just want all ah unu fi understand that jail dah no bed ah rose; jail hard. I mi think I dah bad man; that dah weh I used to think. I want do all kinda crime. At the end of the day, crime sweet when yo di do it, but when yo reach yah, dah jail. crime hard. Dah then yo really know who deh yah fi yo. Once you noh have wah ma or wa pa or an aunty weh love you, yow ah punish yah.”

 

Witnessing these testimonials were some twenty-nine youths between the ages of eight and seventeen. At this tender age, they got a first-hand look at prison life; that choices made now can determine their future—freedom within society or confined behind prison walls.

 

Howell Gillett

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett, O.C., Belmopan Police

“We have twelve villages in our area and then we have the Belmopan proper itself with peripheral areas. I believe most of these villages and areas are represented here today. It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are troubled youths; they are young people who we believe we needed to show them first hand what the life of a prisoner is and see what is occurring at our prison in Belize.”

 

The prison is located some fourteen miles from Belize City, just off the George Price Highway in Hattieville. Its management was privatized back in 2002 with C.E.O. John Woods. Most recently, Virgilio Murillo has taken over as the head of the Kolbe Foundation. But outside of the subvention that is paid for the management of the prison and employee salaries, the foundation provides rehabilitation for the inmates so that when they’ve served their sentences or made parole, they can be successfully reintegrated into society.

 

Virgilio Murillo, C.E.O., Kolbe Foundation

“We offer them what you call vocational skills. We have a poultry program, we have a piggery program, we have a wood work program, we have a welding program, we have a mechanic program. Besides the school, we have the farm; we have a block making program and we try to provide them with these skills.”

 

The programs are not limited to any particular crime and include both convicted and remanded inmates. It rebuilds their entire character and their humanness, but in most cases, even that is challenging as businesses rarely hire ex-cons.

 

Virgilio Murillo

Virgilio Murillo

“I was suggesting to society that they were cruel because yes, the guy requires a police record, and because he has been convicted, there is no opportunity for him to work because every organization, every company, every business are saying you have to have a clean police record. We are about changing lives, we are about trying to give people back their lives.”

 

Duane Moody reporting for News Five.

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1 Response for “Youths Hear Powerful Testimonies from Behind Prison Walls”

  1. jorge says:

    Everybody has a free will, we choose what we want to do. We know the wrong from right. I choose to walk the right path or else I would be there in jail. I personally don’t have any pitty on them especially when they kill innocent people. No matter how long they remain in jail, that will never cure the pain that they have caused. PLEASE PUT THE CASTROS IN THERE QUICK. THESE PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE OUT HERE. THEY ARE A THREAT TO CITIZENS.

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