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Mar 28, 2018

Continuing Rehab after Leaving Wagner’s Youth Facility – Society Needs to Step Up

William Dawson

Like most establishments in Belize, the Central Prison at Hattieville is for adults only – eighteen and over. Since 2004, when an American couple put up the seed money for its establishment, it has hosted youths charged with criminal activity. It currently hosts twenty-three young men, but due to the ebb and flow of crime, has hosted as many as fifty. Director William Dawson says the facility does its best with rehabilitating juvenile offenders, but it is up to society to help re-integrate them.

 

William Dawson, Director, Wagner’s Youth Facility

“I’m going to tell you: at the Wagner’s Youth Facility, we focus on the young men’s rehabilitation, and with that encompasses a holistic approach, where we just don’t look at the crime that these young men were sent for, but we look at their academic background, we look at their spiritual background, we look at the family background, and we try to take an approach even to the point where we look at their psychological state of mind, because all of these are factors, and in order for them to rehabilitate, we need to know exactly what ground they are standing on and how they are wired. So we take a holistic approach where we provide sports, we provide literacy classes, and we also have life skills classes; even agricultural and vocational subjects that they engage in to try to assist them in their rehabilitation.  Basically, the prison is a correctional facility, and when we are finished with our work, some people will think that that’s it. But we work very closely with the Community Rehabilitation Department;  we have a counselor, a social worker who is placed here, and that’s Miss Pearline Young, and she does a great job with us to linking us with the C.R.D. So once these guys are released, they keep track of the progress of the young men. And what the Community Rehabilitation Department does is follow them right trough and make sure they are being placed back in school if they qualify for school; I don’t how much is actually done when it comes to employment because we all know once you have that stigma, it’s very hard to get a job. So all these things we are trying to work as a group. We need to create connectivity, both with the Prison and with the open, general society to accept some of these guys back, because one of the issues we have been faced with is the issue equal employment opportunity for former inmates and we have to make room. Because the guys do pretty well when they’re behind here, but as soon as they leave the walls of the prison, they are back into their original circle that brought them here before. So we need to keep on moving with rehabilitation when they leave these facilities.”

 

The total prison count is one thousand, one hundred and ninety-two.

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