In a period of twenty four hours, two prisoners were killed and twenty eight escaped from the Ad-Seg compound at the Belize Central Prison. It is unprecedented and authorities are still on the ground looking for the remaining twenty three at large. As we try to put the puzzle pieces together our Cayo Correspondent sought an interview with the former CEO of the prison, Marlon Skeen. Skeen spoke on several issues along with a personal perspective of what is currently going on.
Marlon Skeen, Former CEO, Kolbe Foundation: ” I use the comparison that when we get older in age and the diabetes and the different pressure sneaks up on us it doesn’t happen overnight it sneaks up over a period of time and it’s based on what you did in the past, in the past few years or months that led you to that point in time. Similarly in my opinion that is what happened at the prison. Things have been going wrong for some time and it culminated with that episode and sad to say it got really out of hand. It is a prison and there are rules and regulations, there’s protocol that must be followed, there’s security procedures all of the above and I think somehow or the other all of that failed and brought it to that point where everything went awry. So an evaluation must be done objectively and bring everything back to basics as they like to say and go from there but find out specifically what went wrong, don’t do any cover up, don’t do – I mean it’s in everybody’s interest even the prison obviously to find what went wrong and to fix it and really I don’t think the police are the best suited to do that investigation either because they’re looking at it from a criminal stand point and to a large degree we know who are legally liable, the inmates they broke the law when they escaped but the police a lot of them are not fully versed in prison procedures etc and it’s not their job to look or a study of procedures to see what went wrong. So they would be looking at it – as rightly they should- from the police viewpoint and not necessarily from the view point of procedures and things like that so I think they need to get somebody in there to look at it critically see what went wrong and assist in bringing it back on track.”
Skeen also spoke on how he would handle the situation had he been the one at the helm of the Belize Central Prison.
Marlon Skeen, Former CEO, Kolbe Foundation: “You need to be in tuned. You need to keep your finger on the pulse of the prison and I think somehow or the other that was not happening. You need to know your inmates, you need to be in tuned with what is happening within that facility and like myself I actually when I ran the prison I actually lived in the prison. It was a 24/7 in fact I would call it a 30 hour, ten day a week job because you have to be there and you have to know what is occurring. By talking and dialoguing with the inmates you know before hand, you have people in there that pass you intelligence give you information, you have your own style, your own way of keeping your finger on that pulse and by doing that you know beforehand when something is going to go awry. I’m out here on the outside and really I haven’t had much to do with the prison but occasionally I would pick up staff, staff would call me, sometimes inmates would call me, or in mates who are just released and they all have the exact same thing nobody happy, not staff, not inmates nobody. So this what happened could have been predicted. They were heading straight down that proverbial path and they fell over the cliff and this is what happened and so they need to get it back on track and look critically and take criticism and get back on track.”
Skeen is currently self-employed after he resigned from the prison.