The Belize Central Prison was established in 1993 and in August 2002, the non-profit Kolbe Foundation Ltd was awarded the contract to manage the facility. And with spiralling increase in crime, the facility is facing problems with overcrowding. The solution to end the knotty issue of prison congestion at the Belize Central Prison appears to be underway as a new law has been enacted for 2015 onwards. The new law which is coming in effect this year will simply persuade the courts with regards to inmates who have been incarcerated over 3 to 4 years and have been remanded to be brought to trial. Currently, there are 1,568 inmates house at the Belize Central Prison and of that figure as it stands; the facility has 188 inmates awaiting trial in Supreme Courts, countrywide.
So what is contributing to the congestion? According to reliable sources we spoke with at the facility, it is the police lacking in their investigations because in all fairness the Courts have a duty to adjourn cases when evidence has not been presented or yet to be compiled. Simply put, if all evidence is not compiled and brought forth to court, you cannot put anyone to trial. And so the new law will force the police to pull through with their investigations quicker and in turn will speed up the process at the courts.
Illegal inmates being held at the facility are either convicted; have entered the country illegally or overstayed their visas and work permits. The head count on these illegal immigrants stands at 176. These foreign inmates hail from Czech Republic, Cuba, Guatemala, El Salvador, Jamaica, Mexico, Tanzania, Germany and Dominica, just to name a few.
While most inmates are males, with only 44 of that figure as female inmates, it is said that bail hearings will be held on Thursday to alleviate the congestion. But according to our sources, bail is not guaranteed. For inmates, bail is a constitutional right but it is based on each individual circumstance whether they are granted bail or not.
It is of interest to note that 37 of the 1,568 inmates currently being housed at the facility are serving life sentences and the average estimated cost to house an inmate is said to be 14 Belize dollars, per day.
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