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Posts Tagged ‘corporal punishment’

“Convict Says Police Deliberately Shot His Pal; Jury Unconvinced,” The Globe and Mail. October 8, 1938. Page 04.

Admits He Escaped Jail, but Declares He Will Tell Truth; Accidental Death Is Verdict

Blind River, Oct. 7 (Special.) – An escaped convict, who admitted he had ‘lost count’ of the number of times he had been in prison, failed to convince a Coroner’s jury here today that Provincial Constable John Brown deliberately fired at and killed Harold Olsen, one of the trio that held up and robbed a Sudbury taxi driver. The jury brought in a verdict that Olsen’s death was an accident, and that the bullet fired by the officer was deflected.

The evidence of C. Fissette, who is alleged to have taken part in the holdup, along with Olsen and a third man, was the feature of the inquest. He admitted escaping from Amos when taken there from the St. Jean de Paul Penitentiary [sic], where he was serving a ten-year term for a hold-up. Subsequent to this, he said, he was arrested on a charge of breaking and entering, and of escaping from prison at Portage la Prairie.

‘Will Tell Truth’
‘I may be an escaped convict, but I will tell the truth,’ he declared, reiterating that the police officer had deliberately fired at Olsen. He admitted taking the car, but said it was not a ‘stickup.’

‘This is not the first shooting affray with the police that you have got into?’ asked J. L. O’Flynn, counsel for Constable Brown. ‘What are those marks on your body?’

‘Those are the marks of the paddles used on me in the penitentiary,’ replied Fissette.

‘But those other marks,’ persisted counsel.

‘I don’t have to tell you about that,’ retorted Fissette.

Thomas Campbell, Sudbury taxi-driver, told of having his money and his car taken from him by Fissette and his companions and of being threatened with death if he failed to do what his passengers told him.

Constable Testifies.
Provincial Constable Brown stated that with Gordon McGregor he went to arrest Fissette and his companions following the report of the holdup. He told of warning McGregor not to shoot at any one unless he was shot at first and then only to stop the car. He stated he expected the men to be armed when he started out. On seeing the men approaching, near 10 o’clock at night, he ordered them to halt. Fissette halted but the other men ran. He fired two shots into the ground from his revolver, while McGregor fired one from the rifle into the ground. Later he fired a single shot into the bush from the rifle and three shots to call other policemen to his aid. Some time later Olsen called from the darkness that he had been shot and was found shot through the right shoulder. The officer produced a section of railway tie to show that one of the bullets fired had gone through it when he shot into the ground: McGregor corroborated the officer in every detail.

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“From the beginnings of cinema up through the 1960s, a spanking was just a routine part of a certain type of screen romance […] in movie after movie, wily women were rendered the children of the men who loved them. It was entertaining. It was light fun. It was comfort for a culture uneasy about the advance of women’s liberation. It was, in countless period pieces, a way to revise history, to reassure Americans that the liberated woman had always been a problem and there was a time-honored, lovingly disciplinary solution. […]

The women in these movies are portrayed as guilty not just of offenses against their men, but also against their community, and so their spankings are often public affairs. In Frontier Gal, nearly every key player in the film watches. […] The women need to be humiliated out of their pretensions […]

the idea of spanking a woman was so popular that some studios would release publicity photos of spankings even when no such activity occurred in the movie—even when the characters barely interacted. When the spanking did occur, it frequently appeared on ads. Studios apparently felt confident audiences wanted to see Hollywood’s most popular actresses disciplined. It’s true that if Americans feared liberated women, there were surely none more frightening than these rich, young, promiscuous stars. […]

It’s an idea not of romantic but parental love—and one key to the logic of film spankings. In Frontier Gal, the hero first gets the idea to spank his wife after he spanks his five-year-old daughter. […] At the end of the film, he puts the idea to use on his wife, spanking her as their daughter watches. While his wife is confused, the little girl is thrilled, finally saying, “Daddy, you spanked mama.… That means you love her.” Suddenly, the wife catches on and a kiss forced against her stammering lips seals the arrival of marital harmony.

In spanking films, the husband is a surrogate father. […] They all express the same idea: the “best wives and noblest mothers are, after all, but grown up children.” This statement comes not from a movie but a Long Island judge making his declaration validating wife spanking in 1902. The victims’ childishness repeatedly comes up in these proceedings. In justifying spanking his wife in 1958, a Santa Monica psychiatrist said, “Well, what can you do with a child?”

“Bad wives are just as much their husbands’ fault as bad children are their parents’.”

Many of these men treating their wives like children were, quite simply, married to children. Teenage wives as young as 13 reported being spanked. In 1908, a New York husband spanked his 16-year-old wife for standing on the street talking to some “strange men.” “They were not strange men,” she asserted in court. “They were schoolboy friends.” […]

In movies, this idea of “taming” is often expressed literally: if the woman wasn’t a child, she was a horse. Before Frontier Gal’s Rod Cameron meets Yvonne De Carlo, she’s described to him as a “lively filly” who is “well worth stable room—once she’s broken for the bridle.” […]

However much people—especially spanking advocates—believed there to be one, there was no history for this type of practice to harken back to. Except on film. The cinema offered the spanking history the real history books could not provide. There spanking occurs in medieval Europe (The Flame and the Arrow (1950), The Vagabond King (1956)), early nineteenth-century Ireland (Captain Lightfoot), timelessly Orientalized Arabia and Algeria (The Flame of Araby, Prisoners of the Casbah (1953)), and, in dozens of films, the old American West. The Western genre that is so focused on reinventing American origins, also invents origins for a benign form of domestic violence. Just as spanking was a way of reclaiming the liberated, frightening woman by infantilizing her, it was a way of reclaiming brutal, tyrannical violence by infantilizing it. It was an act of retrenchment.

[…] the era itself had to invent a history to look back to […]

[Audiences were] getting pleasure out of a woman’s pain and humiliation. And of course the work of all those film[s …] was to make it easy for people to interpret the suffering of women as both deserved and secretly desired. Every backward aspect of the gender politics of these old films—the justifications of violence, the belief women can only express desires when pressured, the belief they want to be demeaned—is still available today.”

– Andrew Heisel, ‘I Don’t Know Whether to Kiss You or Spank You’: A Half Century of Fear of an Unspanked Woman.” Jezebel, April 12, 2016.

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“There was, in his opinion, in the present day, altogether too much of that maudlin sentimentality abroad in the world, which extended charity to vice at the expense of honesty and industry,…which sympathized with crime, and neglected the really honest man…He thought the best punishment was to tie them up and give them a good thrashing; he would whip them and send them to bed. It was really too absurd to talk of a moral school for such characters. He would be glad to see a house of correction in the rear of each prison, where they would be taken, tied up, and treated in the way he had pointed out.”

– Member of Parliament William Dunlop, Legislative Assembly, Debates of the Legislative Assembly of United Canada. 1843, p. 383.

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“Destructive Boys To Get Strapping,” Toronto Star. July 30, 1938. Page 05.

Caused Damage at Western Ontario Fair Grounds

London, Ont., July 30. – Two 11-year-old boys, convicted of causing extensive damage to buildings in the Western Ontario Fairground buildings, were sent to the York Street Observation Home for a ‘sound’ strapping, under orders issued yesterday by Magistrate Donald B. Menzies in juvenile court.

Four boys were involved in the affair in which windows were smashed, telephone booths wrecked and showcases broken, but the other two were so young they could not be charged in any court.

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“Strap Mercer Riot Leaders, Says Official,” Toronto Star. July 19, 1948. Page 01.

Ringleaders in the Mercer reformatory riot were strapped, A. R. Virgin, director of reform institutions, said today. He was commenting on the statement of a woman in police court today that prisoners ‘were beaten black and blue’ and tear gas used.

Asked if this was correct, Mr. Virgin said he was not going to deny or confirm it, but that ‘we do not hesitate to use tear gas whenever we find it necessary.’

There has been no more trouble at Guelph, he added. He said the men are working hard and those kept in the exercise yard and dormitories are punishment for a demonstration agaisnt the food ‘seemed sorry they had caused trouble.’

Lights in the whole of Ontario reformatory were blazing at 11 o’clock last night, but there was no trouble, Mr. Virgin stated. He said lights usually were out at 10 p.m. Passengers on a train that passes near the reformatory said it was unusual to see the lights on at such a late hour.

‘I just got out of the Mercer last Friday,’ the woman, Lillian Johnson, 50, said in police court, when charged with being drunk, ‘and my nerves were shot after the riots.’

After a list of previous drunk convictions was read by the court clerk, Magistrate Elmore imposed sentence of 40 days.

‘You can’t send me back there,’ said the woman. ‘Why didn’t they print the truth about how we were beaten and given tear gas. I wasn’t in the riot, but I saw those girls beaten black and blue.’

A police matron and a court policeman struggled with accused several minutes before removing her to the cells.

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“Young Punks Are Mixed With Hardened Thieves At Burwash: Ex-Guard,” Globe & Mail. July 10, 1948. Page 07.

By J. Y. NICOL
Cartier, July 9 (Staff). – Reporting on sick parade, an inmate at Burwash Industrial Farm complained to his staff physician that he pains around the heart. ‘You are quite all right and fit for work,’ the doctor assured him, instructing the guard to escort him to his gang.

Less than half an hour later the man dropped dead, his body was taken to the CNR station in a coal dump-truck.

The Industrial Farm is supposed to be reserved for old offenders, yet around 7 per cent of those doing time there are 18-year-old punks on their first stretch. They are forced to associate with the hardest criminals in the province.

Every man who tries to escape is sentenced to 15 strokes of the strap, regardless of the circumstances or the temptation afforded to him, and the punishment is inflicted in two stages so that the mental torture is often as serve as the physical.

This and other charges were advanced today by Toronto-born James Alexander Smail, 27, a naval vet who went north because of the ‘attractive offers’ advertised by Burwash administration authorities.

He arrived at the tail end of a major riot last October, when 15 carloads of special police had to fire tear gas. He left April 19, and freely predicted to authorities that another riot was in the making. This broke more than a week ago and again tear gas was used.

Smail said that he was suspended without either an explanation or redress and that his appeals have been ignored both by the Department of Reform Institutions and the attorney-general.

Now employed in a railway roundhouse here, Smail said: ‘I am at least $1,500 out of pocket because I fell for that Burwash advertisement. I have done my best to place some vital grievance before the proper authorities, but I have been ignored all down the line.

‘I am still anxious to serve, but that is impossible under the present circumstances. And I do not speak for myself entirely. At least 1,000 other men have passed through the staff within the past year. The turnover is out of all proportion or reason.’

At present there are between 600 and 700 prisoners. In the old days there was one guard for every four inmates. Now the ratio has been almost doubled.

Smail said that he was offered an income of $120 a month and staff housing accommodation which he never received after eight months of service. With deductions for board of $19.50 a month, $5 for room, medical, laundry, dental fees and unemployed insurance his take-home pay dwindled to $87.14 a month. Out of that he had to support his wife, and two children, after renting a house for them in Burwash village, seven miles from the main camp.

‘They even nicked me 25 cents a day to ride to work in a government truck which was also used for transporting prisoners,’ Smail stated. ‘I understand the the inmates, however, rode free of charge.’

The room in which he slept at the farm was big, about 20 feet by 40, but it was also shared by from 10 to 15 other guards.

‘There was about a foot of space between each guard,’ he said. ‘Why even at sea in the navy we had more room.’

Last February Smail and 15 other guards enrolled at a special school of instruction authorized by George Dunbar, Minister of Reform Institutions. Smail topped the class in the final examination with 91 per cent. Few other guard ever broke the 90 mark. ‘And not many of those who did are still on the staff because they received no support in carrying out their instructions,’ he commented.

It was on the day of his dismissal that Smail, acting on instructions, participated in a ‘frisk’ of the 150 prisoners. This resulted in the discovery of live ammunition, knives, shivs or daggers and a considerable quantity of smuggled food, he says.

‘We had been instructed to be on the lookout for stuff like that,’ the former guard stated. ‘Yet when it was over I got the axe. The prisoners put up quite a beef, you see.’

‘An hour later I was told to report to the superintendent’s private office. He simply said: ‘Go home and we will call you in a day or so when this blows over. The prisoners are a little peeved.’ I went home free of charge that day in a staff truck, driven by an inmate with no guard accompanying.

‘Later, the superintendent sent work that I should see him at 8 p.m. at his home. When I got there I was told to sit down in a big leather chair and three senior officers started to quick me. I didn’t want to take abuse from them for doing my duty and I let them know that.

‘Acting Superintendent Brown said ‘I have been in touch with Toronto and on verbal instructions by telephone both you and a sergeant are to be dismissed.’ With that I left.’

Smail recalled two or three incidents where prisoners had been strapped for bolting from the farm under heartbreaking circumstances.

‘I know why one man tried to get away,’ he stated. ‘He received word of trouble at home. This prisoner was married and was a father. As soon as he was caught he was given the usual sentence – 15 strokes of the strap, and that is mandatory in such cases.

‘It was obvious even to his guards that he was in a frantic state of mind while at work and he should have been under strict supervision. Instead of that he was given opportunity to attempt to gain his freedom. And the temptation was too strong.

‘Now a strapping is not a pretty spectacle, I may assure you. The prisoner is hitched firmly to a post and there are steel bonds around his arms, his stomach and his feet. He is blindfolded and his shirt is pulled up to his blindfold.

‘The guard assigned to inflict the punishment has a strap about three feet long. He flails the man with it eight times and none of the strokes are gentle. It leaves the man black and blue.

‘After those eight strokes the man is bustled off to solitary confinement. He is stripped of his clothing, handed a nightgown and tossed into a cell. For the next seven days and nights he must lie on the cement floor – for there is no cot in solitary, you see.’

But another pathetic incident lingers in Smail’s mind. There was the day when a fresh load of ‘fish’ or new inmates arrived. Among them was a blond-haired lad of about 18. It was plain to all that he had never been in jail before. When he lined up for dinner, the kid picked up a tray, as he would in a city cafeteria, to collect his food. The old-timers just hold their plates out. Burwash is supposed to be the place for the old-timers, the guard pointed out.

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“‘Two Years With Lashes’ Given Man for Assault,” Toronto Globe. July 5, 1918. Page 07.

Found guilty of assault upon a nun who is one of the staff of St. Joseph’s Convent, Brendalbane street, John Taylor was yesterday sentenced by Magistrate Kingsford to two years in the penitentiary, with twenty lashes.

The nun, Margaret Tracey, was sitting on a bench in the grounds of the convent on the evening of June 20, when Taylor seized her and threw her to the ground. Several sisters hurried to her rescue. Taylor was apprehended by a citizen, Charles Cook, who turned him over to the police.

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