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Belize Central Prison: Topic at Provost’s Lecture in Indianapolis

Amanda Miller is an Associate Professor of Sociology while Kevin Whiteacre is the Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Indianapolis.  Both Miller and Whiteacre were in Belize in May 2014 along with twelve students, doing a research on the prison system in Belize.  On February 16, the delegation will be making a presentation at the 7th annual Provost’s Lecture entitled, “Three Days in a Belizean Prison: Serendipity, Scholarship and Change”.  According to an article on the University’s website, the team had set out to capture the oral history from a unique place and time whilst learning interviewing techniques.  The team spoke to staff members and the administration with a keen focus on the progresses made since 2002 when the Rotarians formed the non-profit, KOLBE Foundation and subsequently took over the management of the prison facility.  The article reads, in part, quote, “The result is an encouraging story about how a non-profit organization, by most accounts, turned a squalid human warehouse into a professionally run institution focused on rehabilitation.”  End of quote.  The report states that among the changes made when the Rotarians took it over are the procurement of mattresses, the access of potable running water for the inmates as well as the installation of toilets that had replaced the 5-gallon buckets they used to use.  They also spoke of the new rehabilitation programs that include vocational training, general education and a computer lab where inmates can hone marketable skills.  The facility has reportedly seen professional training for guards and other employees, some of whom are former inmates and the development of a farm where inmates produce much of their own food, and a system that recycles waste into energy.  The article went on to read, quote, “Though the transition has sparked some controversy, the prison has seen a significant decline in violence and escapes, and it seems more effective in helping inmates return to productive lives once they are released,”  End of quote.   Whiteacre says.  The presentation is set for February 16 at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Centre’s Ruth Lilly Performance Hall in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.  Whiteacre says he will be back in Belize in April where interviews will be done with female inmates of the Belize Central Prison.