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Kolbe week in Belize

The Central Prison in Hattieville houses 1,226 inmates. 485 of the inmates are remanded and are awaiting trial. In some cases, the slow moving court system has people on trial from 4 to 7 years for murder. And Kolbe’s staff has to discipline, feed and provide a structured living environment for them and those who are convicted criminals.  The prison is divided into sections and the CEO of the Kolbe Foundation, Virgilio Murillo says there are about 40 women in the female section of the prison; about 40 inmates under eighteen years of age, and the bulk of the population comprises of adult males. It’s a challenging environment but the CEO says there are many successes made since rehabilitation is part of their work.

Virgillio Murillo CEO Kolbe Foundation: Quite a lot changes has been made; if you take to people by and large you would find out that the prison had a terrible culture years ago we would have had a lot of escapes. Many years ago we would have a lot of hostility with the guards and the inmates. Many years ago rehabilitation was not a  concern of the prison authorities back the nadn today we have changed all of that. Today it is complete 180% turn around. We focus very hard on the rehabilitation of the prisoner which is one of the things for imprisonment. Which is one of the things of imprisonment that you rehab the offender so that he doesn’t want to come back to prison. He doesn’t want to lead a criminal life when he returns to society.

Jose Sanchez: What types of programs do you have for them?

Virgillio Murillo CEO Kolbe Foundation: Well we have various programs, we have programs that address behavioral issues. We have programs that addressing criminal and addictive thinking. Spiritual programs, educational programs, vocational programs. You name it; quite a lot. Too many to mention.

Jose Sanchez: Going forward what plans to do you hope to implement in the future for Kolbe.

Virgillio Murillo CEO Kolbe Foundation: Well certainly as the years wears on we try to improve and step things up one another notch. Definitely we plan to continue to enjoy the success that we have been expiring over the last few years. This years I must tell you we have had two escapees thus far and that is the most disappointing thing that has happened to Kolbe over the last i would say at least of the last four years going on five years now but we do plan to improve on whatever we have been doing all along. Whether it is infrastructurally, whether it’s in training and trying to come up with better strategies. We are going to try anything that is a possible cure, espcare proof and of course be able to rehab the offender’s like i said in proper a manner so that he could return to his society and be successful.

One of the more successful programs takes place at the rehabilitation center where inmates work in support groups, and also work on improving their education. The prison also teaches carpentry skills and make coffins for sale. A section of the prison has a thriving cement block factory for the area. Kolbe is proud of the work they have made in the prison’s transformation.