In decades gone by, there were an average of 50 escapes at the prison. That’s when it was run by the state. Since the Kolbe Foundation had taken up the mantle as the management partner of the institution, the numbers have fallen drastically. But this morning there were wide reports that residents of the Belize Central Prison have escaped. Indeed there was a lockdown and head count at the prison but it wasn’t an escape. The CEO of the Kolbe Foundation, Virgilio Murillo explained that the officers were conducting an escape simulation, which is one way of keeping the institution’s readiness for any such occasion.
C.E.O. of Kolbe Foundation Virgilio Murillo: “We try to have them as often as possible. We don’t necessarily have a set amount that takes place but with respect to the escape simulation exercise that we conducted this morning ideally, we could not announce those things. When an escape occurs: well, first of all, I want to tell you that escapes are one of those inherent things of prisons. You cannot necessarily predict them and they happen but we want to make sure that we are able to deal with these things in the event they happen so the purpose of the simulation exercise this morning which is the second one for this year is really to make ourselves ready and equipped to meet them should they happen but like I said we cannot necessarily publicize them or announce them so the public could know we would be having one because it wouldn’t be as realistic as it ought to be. As a management team we normally sit down and we discuss the timings of when we are going to do it and the information is really kept tightly confidential because if you would announce these things even to your staff you would understand that they would have already been in that mode and they would literally be acting out and we don’t necessarily want them to act out anything. We want them to get down, dirty and do the real deal when it comes to trying to recapture a prisoner who has escaped. Normally with an escape, the first thing you do is really lock down the entire prison so that you do not have any further escapes. Secondly, you want to be able to count the remaining prisoners as quickly as possible because timing is very key. The longer the escapee goes undetected the more successful he can be with his escape altogether. Prior to Kolbe taking over the prison, the escapes were fifty and more per annum. Since we have taken over we had one challenging time back in 2007 where we had 19 but ever since then, we have kept it far below. As a matter of fact, my statistics shows that since 2011 or 2010 there about we have kept it no higher than four. I will tell you that in 2015 and 2016 we managed to bring it down to zero successfully for those two years. We had 1 in 2017 and we have 2 in 2018 unfortunately.”
The last three escapees were foreigners who returned to their country of birth in the region.