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Kolbe Foundation to help mother who begged for jail time to fight drug addiction

The Kolbe Foundation is committed to helping the 25-year-old mother who begged the court last week to send her to jail to help her overcome her drug addiction, Kolbe Foundation CEO Virgilio Murillo told The Reporter on Thursday.

Arrested for possession of 0.4 grams of crack cocaine and a pipe for the purposes of smoking crack cocaine, Reva Jones could only have faced a fine in the first instance, but she, instead, pleaded with the Belize City Magistrate's Court to send her to jail where she could get help with her addiction.

Jones, a mother of three, told the court that she wants to change her life but is unable to do so on her own and that she wished to enroll in a drug rehabilitation program at the Belize Central Prison, which is managed by the Kolbe Foundation. She added that she was tired of being called a "crackhead" as her children were being embarrassed in public by her condition.

In response to her plea, Magistrate Baja Shoman sentenced her to two months each for her offenses, which will run consecutively. Magistrate Shoman also said that Jones would be evaluated at the end of her four months to determine her mental state. Murillo, the director of the Belize Central Prison, explained that he was briefed on Jones's situation. He said that while the drug treatment program is not tailored for the female inmates, he intends to exhaust all resources to get Jones what help the prison can provide.

"We do have other programs that will assist her in trying to overcome her addiction; there is a particular program called "The Journey to Freedom," and what that program will do is more or less let her know what her issues are and how she can go about getting rid of what issues are leading her to smoke drugs and that kind of thing," Murillo said.

He added that the program will allow Jones to see what her triggers are; what role she plays in getting herself in a better place mentally; and how to use the support of others, such as the other inmates, to assist in addressing her issues. Murillo noted that he is concerned about the four-month period, as it might not be enough to get Jones to where she needs to be in the short space of time.

"Typically, the longer a person is using drugs, the harder it is for that person to rehabilitate," Murillo added. "So there are times when three months, four months, would not be sufficient to make an indent on a person's reformation. Nonetheless, we will do our best to give her what she wants."

With the continuum of care being a major concern, The Reporter also spoke with the National Drug Abuse Control Council (NDACC), which falls under the Ministry of Health and Wellness, to find out what resources are available to Belizeans wishing to battle drug addiction outside the walls of the prison.

Esner Vellos, the director of the NDACC, explained that there are various avenues within the public and private sectors where Belizeans can get help and that the NDACC coordinates with all relevant entities in the realm of drug rehabilitation. The NDACC's Treatment and Rehabilitation Unit provides outreach services to the general population, providing interventions, referrals to rehab centres in the country, and information to clients where they can get additional support.

NDACC also works in tandem with the Psychiatric Unit of the MOHW, to ensure that when clients engage in rehab centers, they take an in-depth mental assessment.

"The advice that I would give to members of the general population who are in need of assistance, whether it be for treatment or rehabilitation to get in touch with the NDACC, and we will be able to provide them with the guidance that they need for them to able to access the services that are currently available in our country," Vellos said.

The NDACC can be reached via Whatsapp at 635-5086, or by visiting one of their district offices countrywide. Private facilities that provide assistance include Jacob's Farm in Corozal, and Remar, which has its rehabilitation centre in Bullet Tree Falls. There is also a rehab centre in Belmopan City.


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