The Lunatic Asylum, long ago
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Friday February 23, 2018

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Noel Escalante
Belize City resident, used to work for the Belize Tourism Board
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The Lunatic Asylum, long ago

Dr. Mason Bwowne is in...

This Part of history was erased many years ago, when the film, " THE DOGS OF WAR " was produced in Belize. While the film was being produced, the whole Complex was destroyed.

This complex was called, " CRAZY HOUSE " or the Mental Asylum, and later named, " SEA VIEW HOSPITAL."

Belize City had a complex for the mental patients. This complex was well staffed with a doctor ( Dr Mason Brown being the last one.- It had nurses, an Administrator and the staff.

Finally, it was moved to Rock Ville. (I don't know if it still exists).

This looks earlier than Mason Browne's time. I believe he was here in early 70's and he shut down the "crazy house" and modernized things. No more Sunday's with the poking sticks.

As a kid attending St. Mary's School, I used to visit this Asylum, every lunch hour to deliver Lunch to the Head Nurse (Nurse Marter). This is the building they blew up as part of the Movie Dogs of War. in 1980.

I remember before MCC GROUNDS we used to cross the canal from Cinderella Plaza over too Poor House,TB ward and Sea View (Crazy House) 50-70ts.Mason Brown then I believed Coleman.my LATE mother in law,Lita Lopez -Fuller and Bevan's worked there at the end.

Consolidated Laws of the Colony of British Honduras

15. It'shall be 'lawful for any district magistrate for this colony, where any person shall be discovered under circumstances that denote a derangement of mind and a purpose of committing some crime for which, if committed, such person would be liable to be proceeded against by criminal information, to cause such person to be apprehended and brought before him, and such district magistrate shall call to his assistance some medical practitioner, and if upon view and examination of the said person such medical practitioner shall certify, according to the form marked A in the schedule hereunto annexed, and such magistrate shall be satisfied that such person is insane or a dangerous idiot, the said magistrate may, if he shall so think fit, by an order under his hand and seal, directed to any constable or peace officer, cause the said person to be conveyed to the lunatic asylum at Belize' where such person shall be received by the colonial surgeon and kept under medical care and treat, ment : Provided always that nothing herein contained shall be construed to extend to restrain any relations or friends from taking such insane person or dangerous idiot under their own care and protection, if they shall enter into sufficient recognizances for his or her peaceable behaviour or safe custody before the chief justice or any district magistrate.

16. Every medical practitioner who shall sign any certificate under or for the purposes of the preceding section shall specify therein the facts upon which he has formed his opinion that the person to whom such certificate relates is insane or a dangerous idiot, and distinguish in such certificate facts observed by himself from facts communicated to him by others ; and no person shall be committed to the lunatic asylum under any such certificate which purports to be founded only upon facts communicated by others.

17. The original medical certificate and warrant of commitment shall be delivered with the insane person at the lunatic asylum at Belize, and copies of both these documents' and all depositions taken on the inquiry shall be transmitted by the committing district magistrate, as soon as practicable, to the governor.

18. If any person while imprisoned in any prison or other place of confinement under any sentence of imprisonment, or under a charge for any offence, or for not finding bail for good behaviour or to keep the peace, or to answer a criminal charge, or in consequence of any summary conviction or order, or under any other than civil process, shall appear to be insane, it shall be lawful, if such person is confined in a prison to which visiting justices are appointed, for two or more of the visiting justices of such prison, or, if such person is in any other place of confinement, for the district magistrate, and such visiting justices, or district magistrate are or is hereby required to call to their or his assistance a medical practitioner, to be by thorn or him selected for that purpose, and to inquire with his aid as to the insanity of such person, and if it shall be certified by such medical practitioner, in the form marked A in the schedule hereunto annexed, and by such visiting justices or district magistrate that such person is insane, it shall be lawful for the governor, if he shall think fit, upon receipt of such certificates, to direct by warrant under his hand that such person shall be removed to the lunatic asylum at Belize ; and if at any time it shall be made to appear to the governor that there is good reason to believe that any prisoner in confinement under sentence of death is then insane, either by means of a certificate in writing to that effect in the form marked B in the schedule hereunto annexed and transmitted to him by two or more of such visiting justices or by such district magistrate, or by any other means whatsoever, the governor shall appoint at least one medical practitioner to inquire as to the insanity of such prisoner ; and if on such inquiry the prisoner shall be found to be then insane, the fact shall be certified in writing by such medical practitioner to the said governor, and on the receipt of such certificate the governor shall direct by warrant under his hand that such prisoner shall be removed to the lunatic asylum at Belize ; and every person so removed under this chapter shall remain in imprisonment in such asylum until it shall be duly certified to the governor by the public medical officer that such person is sane, and upon the receipt of such last mentioned certificate the governor is hereby authorized to issue a warrant under his hand, directing, if the period of imprisonment or custody of such person shall have expired. that he or she shall be discharged, or if such person shall remain subject to be continued in custody, that he or she shall be removed to any prison or other place of confinement, in which he or she may be lawfully confined to undergo his or her sentence of death or other sentence, or if not under sentence to be dealt with according to law, as if no such warrant for his removal to a lunatic asylum had been issued : Provided nevertheless that it shall be lawful for the governor to issue his warrant to remove or discharge any insane prisoner who shall be in custody under the provisions of this chapter, if it be duly certified to him by at least one medical practitioner that such insane prisoner is harmless and may be discharged from restraint without danger to himself or others in like manner as if it had been certified to the governor that such person had become of sound mind.

19. The reasonable charges attending any inquiry under this chapter into the state of any insane person's mind and conduct, and of his commitment and conveyance to the asylum, and of his maintenance, clothing, medicine, care and treatment therein during his confinement, which shall be for such time only as his lunacy or madness shall continue, shall be defrayed from time to time by and out of his own property, and, on proof thereof, may be recovered by sale of his goods and chattels and receipt of the profits of his real estate by order under the hand and seal of any district magistrate, if such person has sufficient property, which can be so applied, over and above what may be necessary for the maintenance of any wife, children, and indigent parent which he may have ; but if he has not such property, then the said charges shall be satisfied and paid out of the public revenue of this colony.

20. Any medical practitioner who shall sign any certificate contrary to the provisions herein contained, shall for every such offence forfeit any sum not exceeding one hundred dollars recoverable upon summary conviction before any district magistrate : and any medical practitioner who shall falsely state or certify anything in any certificate under this chapter, and any person who shall sign any certificate under this chapter, in which he shall be described as a medical practitioner, not being a medical practitioner within the meaning of this chapter, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

21. Every criminal lunatic now confined in the lunatic asylum shall be detained, treated and dealt with in all respects as if he had been committed under the provisions of Part III., of this chapter .

Photograph by courtesy Noel Escalante

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