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Jul 2, 2018

76 Prisoners Rehabilitated

The Kolbe Foundation started a rehabilitation programme at the Belize Central Prison back in 2006 at the Ashcroft Rehabilitation Centre. To date, some two-thousand plus inmates have completed the course which aims to help convicted prisoners curb drug, alcohol, behavioral and other problems.  The inmates also learn about life-skills, conflict resolution, anger management and other critical elements to help prepare them for eventual life outside the prison.  The prison holds two graduation exercises and this past Saturday they held the first for the year. Andrea Polanco has the story.


Magdaleonie Tzul, Graduate, A.R.C

“My name is Magdaleonie Tzul – a recovering addict.”


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Magdaleonie Tzul is one of the seventy-six inmates at the Belize Central Prison who completed the rehabilitation programme offered at the Ashcroft Rehabilitation Center. Following three months, in some cases six months, of intensive rehab to break from drug addictions, behavioral problems and criminal actions, the inmates received certificates of completion on Saturday. This is Tzul’s second time in the programme.


Magdaleonie Tzul

Magdaleonie Tzul

“I went back to my old ways, which was doing drugs – cocaine. Which brought me down, found it difficult to maintain my family and the habit and I got caught up with the law. I found myself once more at the Kolbe Foundation.   I am back again in A.R.C doing another time and graduating for the second time and I will pray to God that this be the last time. What the program has taught me is that if I work the program, I will not come back to jail no more. I will not do the things that I used to do. I would like to encourage Mr. Burns and all those who are helping the people to make A.R.C successful, don’t get discouraged. If any individual goes wrong, it is not the fault of A.R.C., it is the individual itself.”


While Tzul struggles with his addiction, one of the aims of the rehab program, through the Kolbe Foundation, is to help inmates not to become repeat offenders. The therapeutic and learning aspects of the rehab programme also prepare inmates for eventual re-integration into society.


Virgilio Murillo

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

“We are serious about changing lives. We are serious about seeing you stay out of the prison. We want you to see yourself as valuable human beings and ARC is one of those programs that will let you start to appreciate your freedom, will let you start to see value in yourselves. ARC also teaches you skills and it teaches you to live more ambitiously and live more responsibly.”


Kenrick Burns, Director, A.R.C. explains how the programme works and how it helps inmates, through a cognitive behavioral therapy called new direction. The teachings also use a twelve step programme to keep participants accountable.


Kenrick Burns

Kenrick Burns, Director, A.R.C.

“We have a curriculum called the ‘New Direction.’ and what it does is that gives them the an opportunity to address any kind of criminal behavior of criminal thinking – we call it the criminogenic needs of the individual and so the new direction addresses those issues there and different challenges that they may have. It also gives them an opportunity to learn a little bit of life skills, teaches them how to handle stress, and a component that teaches them how to handle conflicts – conflict resolution, as well as communication skills and how they can get a positive outcome and positive results from that.  Step one to four teaches them to trust God. Five to eight we call ‘limpieza de casa’ – it means to clean house and it means to get rid of all of those things that have you in the position you are in and steps nine to twelve is to go back and teach others what you have learnt.”


Stephan Anderson is one of the successes of the A.R.C.  He was imprisoned in his early twenties. He completed the programme and later became a facilitator.  Anderson says the teachings helped him when he came face to face with the men who killed his father and brothers.


Stephan Anderson

Stephan Anderson, Facilitator, A.R.C.

“Reaching at A.R.C. was a complete change. I was taken completely out of my comfort zone. It was like taking a pig out of the mud and I wanted to go back to the mud so bad. I couldn’t handle three minutes bathing, silent zone, staying in a class sitting down, folding your hands, humble pass, I couldn’t handle it.  Eventually it makes you surrender. I surrender in the second hall that is called the submission phase. I surrendered to the program and I just went with everything that the program said.   I got to see the person who was charged for my father nearly every single day. I also got to see the person that was charged for my little brother nearly every single day too. And that person didn’t live too far from me and I even go and play basketball with them. One day the young man hailed my attention and came to talk to me. I wanted to hurt him so bad but something held me back from it. I looked in his eyes and I couldn’t do the young man anything.   I always remember what Mr. Burns told me about I over E – intelligence over emotions and so I took my intelligence and put it over my emotions. And so I took the young man and gave him a firm hug and I told him, ‘Hey mien, I forgive you. I really forgive you.’ (clapping)”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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