BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 14, 2016–The murder count for this year, 2016, is approaching 130—significantly higher than the count for 2015, but a bigger concern is the fact that murder convictions and arrests are substantially low at 59 as of the end of October 2016, with another 52 persons in prison for attempted murder and 9 for manslaughter.
This is according to information supplied to us by the Belize Central Prison, pointing to a probably decline in the prison population by at least 10% for 2016.
In some cases, multiple persons are remanded for single murder cases, as is the case with the murder and beheading of Pastor Llewelyn Lucas, for which the man known as Danny Mason/Rajesh Ouelette has been remanded with three other persons.
We were also advised the murder conviction rate is lamentably still in the single digits. In 2015, there were 74 murder convicts or remanded suspects behind bars, so the figure has dropped by 20%, even as the murder rate is increasing.
The prison population was at 1,636 at the end of October, contrasting sharply with the count for 2015, which stood at 2,255 by December that year. With only 6 weeks more to go before year-end, it is expected that the figure may reach an estimated 2,000 for 2016.
The bulk of the cases have to do with drug offenses, and include incarcerations for small quantities of marijuana, immigration offences, crimes of dishonesty, and violent crimes, such as assault cases.