Belize City students visit Central Prison in effort to steer them clear of gang lifestyle

Thirty-one students across Belize City visited the Belize Central Prison today as part of a program spearheaded by Assistant Commissioner of Police, Howell Gillett. It is an educational trip that ACP Gillett says could help at-risk young persons in avoiding a gang lifestyle or crime.

Michael Gladden, Chief of Security, Kolby Foundation: “This morning what we did is that we had collaboration with ACP Mr.Gillet and he had asked us to facilitate a visit of some of the younger kids from the Belize City area to come to the prison and let us give them a short tour of what it’s like in prison. So what we did we pretty much gave them a short tour of all the things that a visitor might go through and then a quick explanation of what it is or the intake process of when a prisoner comes to the jail.”

ACP Howell Gillet: “Well we have kids from across Belize City who are here, we hand picked them as a consequence of the area that they’re from and the type of activities that they’re exposed to. We believe that bringing them to prison will show them first hand what occurs behind the prison walls. And it’s of course in a controlled environment where we have specialized police officers and specialized prison officers who are taking them around, they’re speaking directly with inmates, inmates are giving them their experiences. We’re using it for a myriad of reasons. One is as a deterrent. We want to show young people what the consequences are if you choose a life of crime.”

Chief Security Officer at the prison, Michael Gladden gave the students a tour on how one’s life can change once they are processed at the facility.

Inmate, Belize Central Prison: “I’m here two years now and my experience is that I don’t really want to come back in this place. Everything that I go through and the type of friends that I follow I don’t really want to go out there and follow the same type of friends. So I really learned a lot of things to not go back out there and hang out with the same individuals because I know what will happen to me and where I will end up if I continue to follow them. The advice I want to give the youths is don’t follow friends out there because the same friends that you follow will set you up to do foolishness they are the same ones that when you end up in prison they won’t look out for you, they won’t send anything for you and things. You have to listen to your mom and dad because they will be the only ones that will have your side when you reach to prison.”

Inmate, Belize Central Prison: “This little experience I am going through is not a nice experience. At the end of the day Kolby gives you a next chance because I enrolled in high school, in an online high school and I am in fourth form right now by the grace of God July I will graduate but at the end of the day I could have been out there and I could have had much better, much more. So I just want to tell my little brethren and them please try to stay out of this place here and stay away from the violence and fake friends.”

The visit was made possible through the Community Policing program of the Belize Police Department. Today students heard testimonies from inmates who had been convicted for years, and soon realized that being incarcerated is not the path they want to take.

Student Visitor, Highschool Student: “Yes ma’am I would like to stay away from prison because it is difficult to live behind here and it’s really a terrible spot and a spot that no one wants to be and no one wants to think about to stay at or want to do things to come here. I learned that you could make a right choice by thinking and making your dreams come true and thinking more about your dream and what you want to be when you’re older and don’t fall and follow friends and bad company.”

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