SOC229 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Kingston Penitentiary, Canadian Confederation, The Inmates

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16 Oct 2015
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Module 1 - The April 1971 Kingston Penitentiary Riot
The Breakdown
i) about the prison riot
ii) patterns in prison riots
iii) treatment of hostages in prison riots and murder in prison riots
iv) theories of prison riots
-Kingston story = 2 inmate undesirables were murdered by a group of other inmates
(Brain Ensor and Bertrand Henry Robert), there was a trial of 13 inmates charged
with two counts of murder
-inmates gave police statements, police asked questions about all kinds of incidents
(not just the murders)
this is a form of “available data” - problems include being bias
it is often fragmentary and incomplete
-prison riots seem to be very predictable in the sense that you can predict what is
likely to happen within that riot
riots have distinction qualities but for the most part they’re very general
Kingston Penitentiary as a Maximum Security Prison
-Canadian confederation 1867 there was a division of powers between provincial and
federal government
provincial - less than 2 years, have other names like jails, detentions centres,
reformatories
federal - more than 2 years, long-term criminals, more violent, more serious
-if a person is sent to a federal penitentiary (ex. Milllhaven) it acts as a classification
system, so there’ll be a parole officer, a psychologist, etc and a psychological profile
is done, then they’ll be classified
maximum / medium / minimum security institution
move down this list = being released (through good behaviour)
-inmates in maximum security = most dangerous, violent
-these prisons have the biggest problem with prison riots
environment = repressive
-riot at Kingston was unique because it ended with the prisoners taking control over
the whole prison
-when a riot occurs it is limited to a section of the prison
because prisons are designed in a such a way with bars, barriers and gates
-Kingston inmates were able to take control of the whole central area, they opened
cellblocks for everyone, released them, etc
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Inmate Informants and Roger Caron’s “Bingo”
-“Bingo” - book about the Kingston Penitentiary riot (he was an inmate/bank robber)
-“Go Boy” - autobiography of his experiences with crime and time in prison
-the penitentiary was supposed to close down, but it was kept open as a protective
custody institution
-undesirables = sex offenders and informants
-why would anyone (50/550 inmates) choose to cooperate?
hoping to get favourable parole consideration
altruistic and more in line with societal values (a sense of justice)
The Riot Beings - Billie Knight’s Role
-riot started in the gymnasium on April 14th 1971
-inmates who didn’t want to take part in it didn’t tell prison authorities which was
considered unusual because you would typically inform them if you knew something
was happening
-Bille Knight assumed leadership
had guard hostages
demanded the warden that the 50 inmates in gym need to be released
warden agreed to this but was criticized afterwards because some of these
inmates were undesirables (who got beat up when they went back to prison)
-following the riot, the army surrounded Kingston Penitentiary
The Inmates of 1-D - Inmate Undesirables
-this was the protective custody wing - section of prison had an unfortunate reputation
-where Paul Bernardo stayed
-the people in here were mostly child molesters or informants
-policy was that they shouldn’t let anybody know what they were there for (most
inmates don’t ask) it’s basically “mind your own business”
-risk: someone finds out you’re an undesirable and their life would be in danger
-Brian Ensor - lived in general population, and yet many people knew he was a child
molester - he was attacked during the riot
-not only were inmates were attacked, but prison property was destroyed as well
-Barry MacKenzie - took over when Knight was removed from power
Friday - The Struggle for Power and Leadership
-Knight requested that prison authorities set up a negotiating committee to release
hostages
-Knight wasn’t respected as well as MacKenzie who is now in charge
-a power struggle in prison riots is very uncommon - Kingston was the only prison riot
where the person who was in charge of the riot lost that leadership role and was
replaced by someone else
-leadership changes again, because Beaucage and Shepley end up taking control
away from MacKenzie
Beaucage and Shepley were inmates who challenged Knight
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Saturday - The Violent Inmates Take Over
-government gave word that they were cutting off negotiations because they became
impatient with the fact that the inmates couldn’t come up with a list of demands
-Ottawa, the federal government, were no longer willing to negotiate and gave inmates
an ultimatum
either return prison back to prison authorities and release the guards unharmed
or they would send the army in to take the prison by force
-inmates discussed their options and decided to vote on it and before the vote was
taken, a group of violent inmates took over the prison
Sunday - The Beatings
-undesirables were dragged into the dome and tied to chairs where violent inmates
wanted to beat them while waiting for the army to come
-beatings began by breaking their noses
-most inmates report being disgusted by the beatings
-the beatings ended when all undesirables were thought to be dead
The End of the Kingston Penitentiary Riot
-Ensor and Bertrand were still alive
-the riot ended when the inmates were allowed to hand themselves over to prison
authorities
-inmates were transported to Millhaven Penitentiary and most were beaten by guards
-there were 3 criminal trials following the riot
Module 2 - Patterns in Prison Riots
Initial Stages of Prison Riots - Riots vs. Disturbances
-trying to distinguish between a prison riot and a prison disturbance
prison disturbances - inmates rise up and destroy prison property and carry on /
do not take hostages / very common / handful of inmates / end very quickly
because there are no guard hostages / don’t even get reported in the news
prison riots - disturbances in which there is a large section of the prison
population involved / very uncommon / it gets reported in the news / take guard
hostages / last a few days
-the pattern is really
taking of guard hostages with threats to their lives
destruction of prison property
-the initial stage of a riot is fairly chaotic
-fires are the most dangerous event in prison riots
-prison riots are often unplanned and opportunistic
-because personal safety is a major concern, if there ever is a chance for an inmate to
turn themselves over to authorities - they would do so
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