Over the almost two hundred years that the Kingston Pen has been around, there were riots in Kingston Pen.
This is page five of information about the Kingston Pen. If you would care to see the pages and photos in order here is page one.
The first riot inside the pen occurred in October 1932. The following is quoted from the Guelph-Mercury newspaper, an article published on September 30, 2013, written by Amy Dempsey. (http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/4131294-a-final-hush-falls-over-kingston-pen/)
“Oct. 17, 1932
The first major riot in the prison’s history lasted six days, and came the year after Tim Buck, general secretary of the Communist Party of Canada, landed at the penitentiary on a conviction of “communist agitation.”
Naturally, early reports suggested Buck was to blame for the riots, and questioned whether a “communist uprising” was taking place. Turned out the problem was the cigarettes.
“Standing above every other grievance, ” Arthur C. Carty wrote for the newspaper on Oct. 22, “is the question of cigarette papers, and the endless round of troubles growing out of forbidden uses of tobacco.”
Several shots were fired into the communist leader’s cell during the disturbance, but the government denied there was an assassination attempt against Buck.
The riot ended without casualties and led to calls for prison reform. Two decades would pass before the next major disturbance.”
The following, too, is an excerpt from the article written for the Guelph Mercury by Amy Dempsey. ( (http://www.guelphmercury.com/news-story/4131294-a-final-hush-falls-over-kingston-pen/))
“Aug. 15, 1954
Inmates were getting ready for a Sunday baseball game in the exercise yard when a group of them charged at the prison guards and used cigarette lighters to set buildings on fire, a front-page report in the Star said.
“Penitentiary is smouldering ruin,” read the headline. “Blame hundred hard psychopaths.”
It lasted only two hours, but caused extensive damage and panic. One guard, held hostage in the blacksmith shop, managed to escape by dressing in prisoner’s garb and mingling with the inmates. With flames visible from the downtown market square, worried wives of prison guards gathered in the street outside the penitentiary.
In an attempt to calm things down, warden Walter Johnstone mounted the wall and stood facing the street, a cloud of dark smoke hanging in the air around him.
“Don’t worry,” he shouted above the roar of the flames, “your husbands are safe!”
The army and RCMP were called in to help quell the uprising, which involved 900 inmates.
There were no casualties, but the estimated cost of damages at the time was $2 million.”
Last of the Riots In Kingston Pen
It was the third, and most serious of riots in Kingston Pen. In 1971… the following is an excerpt from Wikipedia:
“On April 14, 1971, a riot lasted four days and resulted in the death of two inmates and destruction of much of the prison. Security was substantially increased and prison reforms were instituted. Six guards were held hostage, but all were eventually released unharmed.”
The Wikipedia article continues “The prisoners issued formal grievances to the media including lack of recreational time, lack of work, and concerns about their future conditions in the newly built Millhaven Prison. A 1971 inquiry into the riot, chaired by Justice J.W. Swackhamer, reported that they had “already noted a number of causes for Kingston’s failure: the aged physical facilities, overcrowding, the shortage of professional staff, a program that had been substantially curtailed, the confinement in the institution of a number of people who did not require maximum security confinement, too much time spent in cells, a lack of adequate channels to deal with complaints and the lack of an adequate staff which resulted in the breakdowns of established procedures to deal with inmate requests.”
Wikipedia’s report continues “The polarization between inmates and custodial staff, between custodial staff and professional staff, led inevitably to the destruction of the program and deterioration in the life of the institution.” This riot, together with successors in 1975, led to an official Sub-Committee on the Penitentiary System in Canada, chaired by Justice Mark MacGuigan. The 1977 MacGuigan Report recommended the creation of an Independent Chairperson (ICP) to investigate prisoner complaints.”
And the last page – a different perspective of Kingston Pen.