In yesterday’s news, we reported that about thirty-eight percent of the one thousand and thirty-five inmates at the Belize Central Prison are between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years old. The prison’s CEO Virgilio Murillo told us that the facility offers literacy and numeracy programs while these individuals are incarcerated. For those young people who have avoided going to jail are still facing exponential challenges and are prone to situations that will see them having contact with law enforcement. The Leadership Intervention Unit now says that its approach not only will respond to those challenges but also help families deal with trauma. The unit’s chairman, William Dawson explained how it will work.
William Dawson, Chairman, Leadership Intervention Unit: “I don’t want us to lose focus of what are our key priority areas which is the therapeutic approach to juvenile jurisprudence which is one of the most important mandates of the leadership intervention unit and the Department of Youth Services approach. When we look at the cultural paradigm shift as it relates to young people we want to highlight that a lot of activity that has happened in terms of violence where young people are concerned are because we have a bunch of young persons running around headlessly without proper guidance. We’ve even heard from some of the neighborhood leaders that we cannot control the younger guys who are running around them and in this regard we have tasked many of the leaders to look at the fact that they need to step in and assist us in identifying some of these young persons in their neighborhood who need assistance. Some of them have been complaining that some of the issues that have been coming up have been caused by young persons who blatantly disrespecting their authority but they’re the ones being held accountable for their behavior and so in that regard we are looking at programs that will facilitate the training of young men and once we look at the therapeutic approach we have to look at trauma. Trauma not only of those young persons who are committing these crimes but ask the question about their parents. Of course the law stipulates that juveniles have to be under the guidance of their parents or a guardian and so when these young persons are running around we need to know where are they reference and so in that regard we need to provide service and care for parents as well who are traumatized and victims of trauma themselves and look also at the extension in terms of programmatic guidance for those who are incarcerated or in these facilities that offer care for juvenile delinquents and provide a support system for many of these young men when they leave the prison. We’ve also seen statistics where many young men who have been doing well in their rehabilitation at the Wagners Youth facility who have been released over the past four years at least 14 of them have been killed by gun violence as well so all of these things are priority areas that we’re looking at.”