Students’ Tough Tour from Hotspots to the Prison
There is yet another program within a pilot level that caught our cameras this morning. It was not devised in a boardroom, but a classroom. A local teacher had an idea of her own to have her students tour the system that catches the criminal and follow them all the way to the police station, courthouse, prison, and eventually the cemetery. News Five Jose Sanchez followed these students on the journey through the streets.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Two Belize City schools were treated to a full day tour of the system that processes criminals. After being taken to hotspots where you either get shot or arrested, the students were taken to the Queen Street Police Station.
Assistant Superintendent Chris Noble, Police Department
“The knowledge is basic. We want to show them where you end up if the trouble continues. You know sometimes you can’t finish it home and it finishes at the police station. We started with domestic violence. Which parents normally bring their kids and we do our best to assist. We do referrals, whatever you need to do when it comes to human services, etc. we also showed them—we did a walk inside the empty cells of course; just as an example as to where you will end up. We didn’t do a walk through the station just to show them the cell and we go on from here.”
“You took them to the proverbial piss house?”
Assistant Superintendent Chris Noble.
“Well it is proverbial, but like everything else, everything has its own nickname.”
“I am assuming that particular experience is one that they didn’t want to experience?”
Assistant Superintendent Chris Noble.
“Well looking at how they went in and how they came out, you have much calmer people around you.”
Douglas Hyde, National Youth Program Coordinator, Police Dept.
“The community policing unit in collaboration with Stella Maris and St. John’s Primary school—we have been working very closely with them with high risk behavioral kids and so we’ve identified with the schools selective students that we want to do a mentorship program. This activity today is part of the mentorship program where we are touring Belize City—different key area within the city such as the detention cells, hot spots.”
The kids then marched to the steps of the Supreme Court where they were briefed on the court system. Then they engaged in a private session at the Central Prison, which is managed by the Kolbe Foundation. And upon their exit, they knew they have visited a place they did not want to return.
Phillip Meighan, Student
“Mek people stop crime and do the right thing.”
“In the prison itself, is there anything in particular that you saw that made you say this isn’t for me; this is not for my friends?”
“Yes the things that they said and all kinda thing.”
“Is there any part of the day that you find most memorable so far?”
“What about it shocked you? What about it made you say, it’s not for me?”
“Cause I see some of my friend and they hard; in there hard. I neva believe that mi deh in deh.”
Glenn Bowen, Student
“I saw different things about the bad boys, what they are doing—they eat bread and sugar and water. They feed them lee bit ah thing. I know they can’t feed them with lotta thing weh we do outside on the street and thing. I say to everybody mek they stop the violence and thing because this dah noh wah good thing. This wa just make everybody dead and make dehn just end their life.”
Tyrese Swift, Student
“Today I saw plenty of prisoners and what they went through. So I am pretty sure I would never want to join any gangs, do any crimes, because it will put my family in danger if I go into a gang. And I would never want to go into the prison because of all the stuff happening here and I won’t want to take away my freedom from the freedom that I already have.”
“Ok last question Tyrese. This program is what they call a pilot project; it is just an experiment. Do you think this experiment or this program should be applied to all schools or a lot of schools for other students? What do you think?”
“Well I think that it should be applied to other schools because now I go by a lot of schools and I see them acting like they are in gangs—hollering that they are in George Street and South Side. Most of them are the ones that usually end up in the prisons.”
“The prison itself, what was that experience like for you?”
“No freedom, they control you, you can’t do what you want.”
“Not something for you and your friends right?”
“Now would you want to see this program applied to other schools—that they should come out here also and go through the experience? Is it a good one?”
“These areas are to divert their minds from negative things and to show them that if they don’t keep their minds positive, do the right thing and stay in school—be a good student—they might end up at these points. So the whole point is to have them there and have key persons talk to them about diversion and keep their mind focused in the whole process. So this is very critical because we’ve seen couple years ago, activities like this have worked where couple of the young persons who participate changed their minds about joining gangs, change their minds about negative things. And so while the group of us sat down together coordinating this whole thing, we realized the importance of it and I’m happy that today is successful.”
Caryl Brannon, School Counselor
“It makes me feel good because this is actually the first step in the mentorship program that we are actually putting together at Stella Maris School so to have the kids them saying that, it means that it something that we could try to work with other schools with; especially Miss Westby and I as school counselor we work together. And other partners; Mister Noble and Mister Hyde who also I brought in to help me. So through then and their connections we can put something together.”
“So essentially this was your idea; this is your project?”
“Yes essentially it was to kick start the mentorship program that we are starting at Stella Maris—to show them that the bad road; this si where it can lead. So we are here at the prison which is one of the avenues where it will stop and the other stop is the burial ground to see you will end up at either one of these two places if you continue to behave this way.”
Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.Email This Story