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Jun 26, 2018

First Group of Inmates Graduates from the GREAT Programme

The GREAT programme of the Police Department has been going on for some time involving youths from primary schools who are encouraged to participate to keep them away from the hands of the gangs. Today, however, the first group of youths already at the Wagner’s Youth Facility, for a range of criminal offenses including murder, completed the two-month course. Twenty-two young men concluded the programme that was introduced at the facility by Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Twenty-two young inmates from the Wagner’s Youth Facility at the Central Prison officially graduated from the Great Programme of the Belize Police Department. The Gang Resistance Education And Training Programme lasted about two months and developed skills within the inmates, most who are currently on remand and not convicted. Kolbe Foundation C.E.O. Virgilio Murillo says that he was engaged by Senior Superintendent Howell Gillett about introducing the programme behind the prison, a first for Belize.


Virgilio Murillo

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

“I think it was an extraordinary idea. The programme started on the twenty-fourth of April and ended on the twenty-second of June. It is a thirteen-week programme comprising of twelve lessons, but we covered it in eight weeks. And we covered it in eight weeks because there was a commitment on the part of Mister Shal to pump in an extra day in the week, because normally the way it is done, it’s one day per week. But he committed himself to pump in an extra day every week for the purpose of the prison.”


With support from the U.S. Embassy, Director Dawson from the Wagner’s Youth Facility and many others, the programme was successfully completed last Friday. Only twenty-two of the twenty-six participants graduated because four were discharged. Gillett says that the GREAT Programme can only work if the participants employ what they have learnt.


Howell Gillett

Sr. Supt. Howell Gillett, Regional Commander, Eastern Division South

“I believe even before the young man start putting ammunition in a magazine, it is already late. We needed to have done something way before that so that it didn’t reach to that point. And this is our way of manifesting how we believe we can solve crime. And I believe this is very strategic and I could never over say thanks to the U.S. Embassy for allowing us for this very strategic programme to be instituted at this institution. An investment in young people like what we did over the past twelve weeks is a very great investment in the future of Belize. I believe most if not all of you will now go back and don’t be involved.”


While we are unable to disclose their identities, two graduates currently on remand as accused murderers spoke to us about the benefits of GREAT having already spent two years each behind bars. Sixteen and seventeen years of age, they say that it has helped them with anger management and not giving in to peer pressure.


Voice of: GREAT Graduate #1

“It teach me how to deal with things when I go back out ina society, how to work with people and how I could be something different out there in society. I don’t want to be what society di accuse me of; I want to show them that I am somebody different in life. The programme teach me how to deal with gangs, anger management, conflicts and it teach me how to deal with genders and things.”


Voice of: GREAT Graduate #2

“When I mi come yah, I dah mi wah angry person, still got di lee streets ina mi and thing. But when I dela with this programme it make I leave talkings alone, give thought to the problem and no worry weh nobody di say and just try keep on the right track. All kinda things it make I learn. And it make I learn fi forget things. No really worry about things because there are a lot of men weh wah try get ina me and I just make dehn stay far from me. Especially since I deh pan murder; they come on three months and I gwen home, but I wah left ina di hole.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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