How Belize is Leading Decriminalization for Non-violent Cannabis Offenders
That’s Just the Way it Was…
South America’s jailing system had had a bad reputation for corruption, sometimes said to facilitate organized crime in an encouraging way. However, Belize is approaching the situation differently.
Looking to humanizing rehabilitation instead of dehumanizing incarceration. It wasn’t until an organization known as the Kolbe Foundation contracted with the gvt. that the prison system saw this change in how the government approached their ever increasing drug problem through their strange, yet effective ways. Up until then violence, officer abuse and crime ran rampant within the walls of almost every prison in the country.
It even reached the point where the Belize central prison didn’t have access to drinking water or a working sewer system.
This left nearly 600 inmates without water to be able to use their toilets. The others, well, they battled it out while the rest slept next to their feces.
But Things Have Changed
But the Kolbe Foundation has done a tremendous job of reforming the prison system. When the Kolbe Foundation first took charge, every one of the 1,200 inmates housed at the prison — nearly half of which are Central American migrants jailed on non-violent immigration offenses.
The US State department claims that “Through the first 10 months of 2014, Belizean authorities eradicated over 100,000 cannabis plants”— Since the foundation has restructured the system, those inmates now all have access to one of two thousand + available beds, a working sewer system, running water and yes, even showers.
The prison is now has more than 30 buildings which are used to provide rehabilitation services for the many non-violent offenders such as the 80,000+ marijuana arrests made each year.
The Benefits of Rehabilitation
However, improved buildings and yards are not the only accomplishments as of late. The overall rate of criminal enterprises and contraband being found are also much less since the foundation took over. Prison escaped aided by widespread corrupted prison guards have now become a thing of the past. They’ve gone from having fifty seven in the year 2000, to just two in 2018.
- - Newsweek, “Where is Weed Legal Around the World?”, https://www.newsweek.com/where-weed-legal-around-world-you-can-now-officially-smoke
- - Washington Post, “Report warns of ‘serious risk’ to Peace Corps from drug use by volunteers” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/08/24/report
-  – Breaking Belize News, “Police find 2.5 kilos of marijuana in Ambergris Caye”, https://www.breakingbelizenews.com/2019/04/26/police-find
-  – Insight Crime “Belize Prison Offers Softer Touch than Latin American Counterparts”, https://www.insightcrime.org/news/analysis/belize-alternative
-  -US Department of State, “2015 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR)”, https://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2015/vol1/238946.htm
-  -Reporter Belize, “Coast Guard Patrol Find Weed And 9mm Pistol On Ambergris”, https://www.reporter.bz/2019/01/21/9766/ PlusTVBelize, Belize decriminalizes 10 grams of Marijuana, Youtube