In 2002, management of Hattieville Central Prison was transferred from the government of Belize to the Kolbe Foundation (tel. 501/225-6190, www.kolbe.bz ), a private, nonprofit Christian organization. The Hattieville facility had been in operation less than a decade and was horribly constructed and disastrously overcrowded. The Kolbe Foundation’s vision of a secure, humane facility based on meaningful rehabilitation and reintegration has had astonishing results in the short time they’ve been there.
A major part of the foundation’s approach (in addition to piping Bible readings over the PA system) is education and skill building, including the creation and development of workshops and classroom courses. Inmates learn woodworking, jewelry making, tailoring, and welding. There is an agricultural program which includes a large vegetable garden, a farm where chickens and pigs are raised, and a cement block shop.
The Prison Gift Shop (tel. 501/225-6218 or 501/225-6190, ext. 235, open 8 a.m.–3 p.m.) features items made exclusively at the prison by the inmates in all the aforementioned workshops. You’ll find furniture, jewelry, hammocks, carvings, handicrafts, and many other items.
The Prison Gift Shop is a step into the future for inmates, offering the means for their rehabilitation and for the prison itself to become economically self-sustainable. Your patronage will go a long way to assist in these goals.
To get to the Hattieville Prison Gift Shop, leave Belize City  and follow the Western Highway until you reach the Hattieville roundabout at Mile 14. Turn right (north onto Burrell Boom Road) and travel for approximately two miles. The prison and Gift Shop are on the left side of the road.
It’s a perfect diversion for anyone headed either to the Community Baboon Sanctuary  or to points west and south in Belize, as it’s only two miles off your route.