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Jun 23, 2004

Prison moves toward goal of rehabilitation

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With the attention of the community focussed on the arrest and conviction of what appears to be a growing cadre of violent criminals, it is perhaps fitting that tonight’s lead story centres on what happens to those perpetrators once they are apprehended and put behind bars. Because as much as the public might like to see authorities lock them up and throw away the key, the fact is that all but a handful of offenders will eventually be released back into our community. And what happens during those long hard years at Hattieville will likely determine their attitude and actions back on the streets. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods reports on the latest efforts at rehab behind the walls.

Cuthbert Burrell, Board Member, Kolbe Foundation

?Although it is not our mandate by law, it is our dream or part of our objective to rehabilitate. We are supposed to provide secure, humane facilities with the objective to achieve meaningful rehabilitation.?

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

Kolbe Foundation, which manages the Hattieville Correctional Facility, has worked hard over the last two years to make the institution a more secure and humane environment for its staff and inmates. According to board member, Cuthbert Burrell, the challenge now for them is to rehabilitate the prisoners who will one day be released back into society. That effort got underway today with the opening of the Rotary Learning Centre.

Cuthbert Burrell

In the past we have had programmes but they often have been disjointed or they would be dependent on individuals. If this person is available then yes that programme will happen and if that person decides or for some reason has to be less involved then that programme falls apart. But what we want to do is with this sort of a facility is set up a permanent rehabilitation programme that we will ultimately be able to provide certificates, to be able to show that you know it is just like as if though you?ve graduated from somewhere to say you have x-y-z background. So the options are limitless but we obviously needed that right facility and this is a step in that direction.?

Chosen on a case by case basis in theory all inmates will have access to the new facility where they will participate in educational classes including computer courses. Because most Kolbe Foundation members are Rotarians, it was no surprise that the project was funded by the local club of Belize.

Rene Villanueva, Sr., President, Rotary Club of Belize

?Our club has supported from the very beginning the Kolbe Foundation and its management of the Belize Central Prison. Rotary is very much involved in uplifting the community in providing community service and Rotarians worldwide believe in serving the community, service above self is really our motto. And as Rotarians we believe in providing that service above self and we see assisting the Kolbe Foundation and identifying ourselves with the Kolbe Foundation as a way of providing some service above self back to our community.?

But how successful will any rehabilitation program be without support from the business community?

Cuthbert Burrell

?This is something that hurts our heart because now we have been here over a year, almost two years, so we have seen inmates that have been exemplary inmates in here and after they go back out, within a month or a couple months they end back out with the same friends and back into the same sorts of lifestyle and ultimately return to the prison. So that is unfortunately at present outside of our mandate but that?s where we need most of the help is to actually get the transition between this controlled environment where these people are honestly excellent examples of good citizens to the outside environment where they have all the temptations and therefore unfortunately often fall short. So yes, we definitely do need the business community, well actually the community on a whole, to when the inmates go out to support them and actually give them a chance.?

The Centre includes a computer lab with twenty one computers, library and reading room, general classrooms, space for the prison?s radio station, conference room, counselling offices and bathrooms. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

The Kolbe Foundation, a non-profit organisation, was formed in 2002 to take over the management of the Belize Central Prison.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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