By Charles Gladden
BELIZE CITY, Tues. June 28, 2022
On Tuesday, June 28, Dr. Terrence Alladin, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania, USA, delivered a presentation entitled “Prison Reform: Reducing Recidivism through Peace-Making Theory” to a cross-section of stakeholders, including members of the Belize Police Department, the Belize Central Prison, and the magistrate court system.
Dr. Alladin has over twenty-five years of experience in criminal justice—having served within the New York State Police and the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, in addition to conducting research in the field as an asssitant professor at Lebanon Valley College.
During the presentation, which was hosted by the Ministry of Hone Affairs in conjunction with Galen University, Dr. Alladin stated, “You give people hope, they’ll be willing to take that hope that you’re giving them and build on that. If people have no hope, then they don’t want to go back home. So prisons are made to rehabilitate by giving hope by saying, ‘Hey, this is a future. I can have a future.’ Most prisons tell people there’s no future for you. When we use violence by incarcerating people, treating them badly and telling them ‘you’re nothing’, who wants to be told ‘you’re nothing’? So if you give them hope, people are willing to go back and try, and that’s all that we’re asking people—to be the best you can be.”
This approach coincides with the philosophy of Belize’s only adult correctional facility, the Belize Central Prison. “When we took over the prison back in 2002, I can tell you the culture was really one of brute force and ignorance. It was a situation of lock them up and throw away the key type thing. And from the get-go, Mr. John Woods, who is the brainchild of Kolbe Foundation, it wasn’t his thing to treat prisoners like animals. He always shared the thought that if you treat people like animals, then you’d be getting animals coming back out to society. From the get-go, he made it crystal clear, that we’re going to treat these guys with respect and we’re going to offer them their basic human rights,” stated the CEO of the Belize Central Prison, Virgilio Murillo.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, Dr. Richard Rosado, noted how the principles outlined in the presentation can be implemented within the Belize Police Department.
“It is basically boiled down to what if we want to reduce crime, the way we can do that is if we address the human suffering. And part of the discussion that they brought up was the collaboration and building relationships, and that’s is something that we are implementing within the Belize Police Department along with our stakeholders. So the session was informative and engaging and I believe it is beneficial for all of us,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Rosado added, “We believe that the community and stakeholders can come on board and help us fight this crime issue. I believe once we can believe that relationship with the community and stakeholders, it will make our job easier and it would also assist us in policing the community.”
The recidivism rate at the Belize Central Prison is fifteen percent.