The old prison in Belize City, now the Museum of Belize, then and now
This is the old central prison that was on jail/goal lane. The wall and the cells were made from bricks. That's where we'd line up early in the morning to buy fresh out the oven jail bread.
AS MINISTER IN CHARGE OF PRISONS AND CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTIONS, this was one of my scary but sad moments.
SCARY because so many Belizeans had committed various cruel acts, which caused the death and suffering of so many people,-
AND that within these walls and many persons had passed through the punishment BY HANGING TO DEATH.
( You shall be hanged until you are Dead, Dead, Dead. ) said the Judge.
SAD because, the many who entered these walls, could have been the VICTIMS of a Failed Society.
I travelled through the entire HER MAJESTY'S PRISON, observing and asking Questions. I talked to some prisoners who practically had lived in Prison, like me friend SUGAR and TASA. - Their story always was, that they balame them for something they did not do.
THEN THE TIME CAME FOR ME TO INSPECT THE GALLOWS. ( The hanging rope area. ) VERY EERIE SIGHT.
The cubicle was small. - One Rope hanging from the ceiling with a loop, and two black gates below where the sentenced one would stand on.
Mr Campbell the Superintendent of Prisons would then ask the Minister to SLIDE the loop to see if it was clear. ( CHECK. )
According to him, by Law, " AT THE STRUCK OF EIGHT, the two gates under the Prisoner would open and that was it. - By NINE the body was on its way to be laid in a grave.
( For history's sake.)
I had the privilege to visit behind these doors when it was a prison, I am telling you, It's not a nice feeling. This may sound weird, But I actually felt eyes of lost souls looking at me, I actually heard the silent whispers in this place, and yes every one were pleads and sadness. The chapel was the worst cold place for a little church. The gallow felt like spirits were there, It was a very sad experience for me. And yes I felt that many souls were sent to death here, and they were innocent. I am not a suspicious person, But my experience was real. Sad
Historical facts.indeed you made reference to the excutioner chamber Don Hector and the Trapp doors the condemn man is place on the Trapp doors hands and feet secure.as you rightly stated at 8am the signal is.given to the Executioner who disengage the Trapp by pulling the handle to the rear whereupon the Trapp door is open the condemn is hang after one hour he is then taken down prior to that the doctor will confirm he die from hanging the black flag continues to be flown until the.body is remove and escorted to the cemetery note the majestrate and chairman of.the visiting justice committee supt. Of Prison Chief Officer inquest is organized to determine the.cause of death the death warrant must be presented the doctor gives evidence to include the Supt.of prison at the.conclusion of the enquiry which is.convene at the prison thereafter the death certificate is posted outside the gate the.body is escorted by prison officers and.Police to the cemetery.
Back then it was hard bed hard bread and punishment Prisons was not a bed of roses corporal punishment and execution was the norm for example in 1954 4 men was executed in 1955 4 men was executed just sharing some historical facts so you see Ms.Burns behind the Wall was a different world back then until rehabilitation was introduce in the system by Hon. Lindy Rogers after he came back from a official visit in London.
No video can be located of life behind her Majesty's prison before 1981 there was a section of the prison laws section189 sub section]1[ no officer directly or indirectly communicate with the press during the course of his duty sub section  no officer with out authority publish any matters or make public anouncement relating to the administration or the inmates of any prison in British Honduras i believe section 192 of the old prison laws also state officer cant write letters to the press,broadcast, publish books or articles most officers back then were very loyal to the system and their families hence reason they took no risk in losing their employment the prison back then in the COLONIAL ERA WAS LIKE A SECRET SOCIETY FOR EXAMPLE NO ONE KNOW WHO THE EXECUTIONER WAS HE WAS CALLED JAY KETCH ACCORDING TO HISTORY THE FIRST BRITISH EXECUTIONER NAME WAS JOHN KETCH 1838 INFO, BY THE TIME HIS NAME REACHED THE CARIBBEAN it was change to jay ketch its lengthly but our History.
In the 60 the prisoners had a bucket parade daily the command was Awing pick up bucket right turn lead out that is to say marching through the work shop and dumping the night soil in a hole that leads through Public works into the sea that was part of the routine of the this historical system
Top photograph by Tony Rath
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