The Belize Central Prison is managed by the Kolbe Foundation. The prison currently houses one thousand and seventy inmates who are under twenty-four-hour surveillance of a staff of only two hundred and fifty guards. Their job is dangerous as several guards have been threatened or in last year’s case beaten and tied up. As a result, the prison’s turnover rate is often very high, leading few employees to surpass three years of service. The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Kolbe Foundation, Virgilio Murillo says this is why every year the prison recognizes its last standing employees with a Kolbe Award ceremony.
Virgilio Murillo, CEO, Kolbe Foundation: “We did have a ceremony to recognize thirteen staff members both civilian staff and security guards who have been with the prison for ten years and fifteen years respectively. Now I am happy that you asked that question because there are certain qualities that prison staff needs to have if they are to remain in this environment long enough and one of those things is certainly integrity. They need humanity, they need professionalism and they need to have that personal suitability if they are to make it in this environment. One of the ways I gauge it is once a staff has made it over two years more than likely that staff is going to be in this business for the long haul because this is not an environment that anybody can come and fit in, you really have to have those qualities if you’re to make it in this environment. Remember we’re dealing with the social ills of society, people come here for killing, people come here for raping, people come here for robbing, home invasion the whole nine yards and that mindset hat they came here with you know they’re dumping all the problems on the prison; the court system, the criminal justice system dumps all the problems and give it to the prison and it is expected that we are to work with these people and to try and turn their lives around and those qualities you need them if you’re to have an impact on these individuals. So we have to recognize when a staff stays with the prison ten years and fifteen years I mean that’s no little bit of investment that’s no little bit of time so it means that that person is here with his whole heart. To me it is more than the pay it is more because of the passion, the commitment and the dedication so we needed to recognize them.”
The CEO also noted that there are several success stories among guards who were once inmates in the prison.