IDB Analyses Citizen Security Initiatives

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Updated: August 11, 2017

There was a Gap Analysis Report on Belize which was published earlier this month by the InterAmerican Development Bank which focused on mapping existing citizen security initiatives and recommends actions for future programs.  It is a 67-page report that looks at several areas including juvenile justice, legal aid, the prison system, mental health as well as education and gang involvement.  The analysis is based on the experiences of the program, “Community Action for Public Security (CAPS),” financed by the IDB.  The report makes two general recommendations: less repression through police and prisons, and more services for at-risk youth with more targeted interventions for those involved in gangs. This approach requires a deeper understanding of young people and families at risk of being involved in violent acts that goes beyond the generic definition of risk — those that neither work nor study. International evidence shows that any contact with the criminal justice system — police, courts or prisons — increases the likelihood that young people will engage in future criminal activity.  The report notes that many young persons incarcerated do not necessarily pose a threat to public safety and therefore questions the need for the court proceedings.  On that backdrop, the report recommends less punitive laws while noting that the laws that are excessively severe must be reformed.  Second, the report states that the universal access to free legal advice would also reduce pre-trial detention and severe penalties, especially for minors. Prosecutors and judges must apply their discretion to offer alternatives to prosecution or detention of young people, favouring community programs. The report acknowledged the positive results being shown through the CAPS Program and noted that Belize can expand those results with the support of international cooperation and major legislative and policy changes.