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Posts Tagged ‘history of crime and punishment in canada’

“Convict’s Thrilling Escape: Leaps From Fast Train,” Toronto Globe. November 25, 1918. Page 08.

Man With Bad Record in Toronto Fools County Constable and Flees Near Shannonville – Recaptured at Napanee

John Gowans, who was on his way to Kingston penitentiary, where he was to commence a second five-year sentence for housebreaking, escaped from the custody of County Constable Frank Brown near Shannonville on Saturday morning. Gowans made his escape by obtaining permission to go to a lavatory, and then by leaping from the window of the train after he had slammed the door upon Constable Brown.

Gowans was the housebreaker who entered the house of the widow of the late Dr. Fenton, and assaulted her when she endeavored to hold him until the arrival of police. He was later arrested, and only recently completed his sentence. Judge Winchester on Wednesday sentenced Gowans to five years’ imprisonment upon convictions registered against him for housebreaking in Parkdale.

The convict was recaptured at Napanee on Saturday just before midnight.

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“[Lieutenant Governor John Graves] Simcoe’s greatest achievement as a road builder was also planned to serve military purposes, but in serving those objectives it also provided the impetus for settlement of Simcoe County. In planning to build Yonge Street, Simcoe was looking for a short cut to Georgian Bay, the jumping off point for the most western British fur trading post at Michilimackinac, where lakes Michigan and Huron meet. Such a land link between Lake Ontario and Lake Simcoe would then allow easy access to Georgian Bay via water and would avoid a much longer water passage on Lakes Erie and Huron. Writing to secretary of State Henry Dundas in October, 1793, Simcoe advised that ‘I have ascertained by a Route hitherto unknown but to some Indian Hunters, that there is an easy Portage between York and the Waters which fall into Lake Huron of not more than thirty miles in extent, and through a County perfectly suited for agricultural Purposes.’

By the time he wrote the letter in October, Simcoe was already on his way with a group of soldiers, surveyors and Native guides to follow the old Carrying Place Trail north from the mouth of the Humber River to Lake Simcoe (originally named Lac aux Claies by the French and renamed by Simcoe after his father, although some say after himself). This route followed the marshy areas along the Holland River and did not meet Simcoe’s expectations but on the return trip to York he found the route that his new military highway would take: south from Holland Landing, via Bond Lake and the branches of the Don River. According to military tradition, the 33-mile (53 km) road was carved through the bush in a straight line from York to Holland Landing.

Surveying and clearing started at Holland Landing early in 1794 but Simcoe had to send his work crews, his Queen’s Rangers, to Niagara in 1795 to meet the threat of an American attack, and the project was delayed. The road was completed by February of 1796, after Simcoe contracted with renowned surveyor August Jones to get it finished. He also relied on assistance from each settler along the route, who was required to clear six acres of land within a year and provide some road building labour. Simcoe also had convicted petty criminals removing tree stumps. The ‘Stump Act’ of 1800 would formalize the practice of using convicts, alcohol offenders mostly, to remove stumps on public road projects.

As was typical, as soon as it was built maintenance became an issue for the new link to the northern districts. On its completion it was a stretch to call Yonge Street a road, with many stumps not removed and sections sinking in the marshy areas. Trees, brush and other construction debris remained unburned. There was no public money to maintain the road and no early settlers on the route to do the work for free.”

– Robert Bradford, Keeping Ontario Moving: The History of Roads and Road Building in Ontario. Toronto: Ontario Road Builder’s Association, pp. 13-14.

Image: Titus Hibbert Ware, “Corduroy Road Over a Swamp in Orillia Township, Ontario.“  September 1844. Pen & brown & blue inks, grey wash, over pencil.

Toronto Reference Library, Baldwin Room, M 1-17.

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“Jack Lett Is Given Ten Years In Prison,” Toronto Star. November 22, 1918. Page 02.

Canadian Express Co. Robber Also Pleads Guilty to Robbing Union Bank.

Jack Lett, the embryo highwayman who robbed the Canadian Express Co. of $20,000 on October 23, was to-day given ten years in the penitentiary. He withdrew his plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty to robbing the Union Bank and stealing an automobile. For these crimes he also received five and three years respectively. The sentences are to run concurrently.

His brother, Walter Lett, also withdrew his plea of not guilty and pleaded guilty to having received $1,000, which he knew to be stolen. This money he gave to his wife. He was let go on remanded sentence provided he gives $1,000 security and finds two other securities of $1,000 each.

James Gordon Dougall is to spend not less than one year and not more than two years in the Ontario Reformatory.

In addressing Jack Lett, Chief Justice Meredith said: ‘I have no desire to add to the severity of your sentence by lecturing you. I regret that I have no testimony as to your mental capabilities, so I must judge you as I have seen you. The main trouble with you seems to be inordinate vanity. In opening your case your counsel has pictured you as a pigeon-chested, varicose-veined misfit, who is undeveloped both physically and mentally.

Looking Into the Future.
‘Your picture of yourself is that of a bold highwayman. It is to cure you of this delusion that you are to be disciplined. If you were allowed to go free that gun of yours might go off some time, and then some judge would be talking about Jack Lett being hanged by the neck until he was dead.

‘If there had only been a ‘man’ in that express car who would have given you a good thrashing, taken away your pistol, and thrown you out you would have been cured. The only thing to do now is to seek to cure you by the panacea of hard labor.

‘Jack Lett, you were not made for a highwayman. You were given freedom of that express car. Afterwards you went wandering about like a frightened child, and impressed the first man whom you met as a thief. Moreover you left your plunder right under the very nose of those who suspected you. 

‘Walter Lett, you certainly did not do all you could to save your brother, and let me tell you the offence to which you plead guilty is a serious one.

Severe Words For Dougall.
‘James Gordon Dougall, your case has caused me a deal of thought. You were the chief clerk, you held a responsible position, and you can understand that your connection with this crime will cast suspicion upon your associates and inferiors. You were leading a disgraceful life. Don’t you think one should be horsewhipped for a life of that kind.

‘You were found guilty of the lesser offence, but a jury might well have found you the instigator in this farce.’

All the prisoners refused to say anything in their defence, and received their sentences in silence.

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“Jack Lett, Dougall Both Found Guilty,” Toronto Star. November 22, 1918. Page 05.

Mercy Plea on Behalf of Former Chief Clerk at Union Station.

After considering their verdict for 40 minutes the jury yesterday returned a verdict of guilty in the cases of Jack Lett and James Gordon Dougall with a strong recommendation for mercy in the case of the later. During the trial Jack Lett’s manner was one of cold indifference, while that of Dougall was broken-hearted. These two young men were charged with the robbery from the Canadian Express Company of $20,000 on October 23, Douglass was remanded until to-day or sentence. Then other charges will be preferred against the Lett brothers; Walter Lett is charged with receiving $1,000 from his brother which he knew to be stolen; Jack Lett is charged with robbing the Union Bank and stealing an auto.

At the afternoon sitting of the trial of James Gordon Dougall, charged with conspiracy in connection with the Canadian Express Co., $20,000 robbery, the young man’s father gave character evidence. Dougall, Jr., is 32 years of age and was chief clerk at the Old Union Station. His father commended, ‘My boy–’ and then broke down.

Chief Justice Meredith: ‘Your boy was always a good boy, gave you no trouble and you cannot speak too highly of his character.’

‘Oh yes, yes,’ said Mr. Dougall.

Gordon Dougall, sitting in the dock, hung his head and wiped his eyes.

Mr. Dougall, Sr., has lived in Barrie for 60 years. Gordon Dougall came to Toronto nine years ago.

Frank Denton, K.C., addressed the jury briefly. He admitted that his client, Jack Lett, was guilty of the crime, but made a plea on the ground of mental and physical weakness. Jack Lett has recently undergone several operations. Mr. Denton wanted to know why Cox, the Grand Trunk conductor who gave Lett the information regarding how the express money was handled, was not in the dock.

On behalf of his client, James Gordon Dougall, W. K. Murphy urged that he had taken no part in the crime, but that he had merely listened to the plans of his friend with whom he had grown up.

Mr. T. C. Agar, the Crown counsel, dismissed the case of Jack Lett in a few sentences since his counsel had admitted that he was guilty, and confined his address to the jury to the case of James Gordon Dougall.

His Lordship: ‘Mr. agar, all the points you presented were taken up from the statement of Dougall to the police.’

T. C. Agar: ‘I think so, my Lord.’

His Lordship: ‘Then, if he had kept his mouth shut there would have been no evidence against him?’

Referring to the messengers who held up their hands, His Lordship said: ‘I call them messengers, I cannot call them men.’

The jury retired at 3.15 pm.

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“Witnesses Identify Jack Lett As Robber,” Toronto Star. November 21, 1918. Page 02.

Two Express Messengers Say He Made Them Kneel in Car and Gagged Them,

THEN TOOK $20,000

Hewitt Ave. Residents Say He Called at Their Houses, Carrying the Plunder.

John Lett, Walter Lett and James Gordon Dougall were all three charged to-day before Chief Justice R. M. Meredith, with stealing $20,000 from the Canadian Express Company on October 23, on a train leaving Toronto for Hamilton. Frank Denton, K.C., is defending the Lett brothers, and U.K. Murphy is defending James Gordon Dougall. Jack Lett is charged with the actual commission of the crime.

George Williamson, the messenger who was robbed, said, in his evidence: ‘Just after we had left the Union Station a man got in the side door of the express car. The door was closed but not latched. He pointed a revolver at us and told us to kneel down and put up our hands. He ordered my assistant, Wilson, to lie down, then he swore at him and pushed him down, tying and gagging him.’

Both Went on Their Knees
The gags and ropes were produced and identified. 

Judge Meredith: ‘What were you doing at that time?’ Williamson: ‘I was down on my knees. Then he ordered me to open the strong box. I was tied and he helped himself. Before he jumped from the train he said: ‘If you open your mouth or say anything about this, I’ll get you again.’

Judge Meredith: ‘Did you have a weapon?’ ‘Yes, in my hip pocket.’

‘Couldn’t you use it?’ ‘No.’

‘Not when you were kneeling down saying your prayers all the time?’

Williamson and Wilson, the other messenger, who was called next, said that they got loose just west of New Toronto. Twenty thousand dollars was taken, and $100 in silver.

Both Identify John Lett
Both messengers identified Jack Lett as the man who robbed them.

W. J. Greenway, 37 Hewitt avenue, and Mrs. Roberston, 39 Hewitt avenue, both identified Jack Lett as the man who called on them on the morning of Oct. 23. He carried a paarcel wrapped in a black apron. He asked Greenway if he had a garage to rent, and if he knew anyone who had a room to rent. Greenway referred him to Mrs. Robertson, next door. Lett asked if she were a widow, and asked her for a room.

Mrs. Robertson: ‘I told him to come back in the evening. Mr. Greenway phoned me not to take him. He asked me if he could leave his parcel until evening. He said he was a printer and that these were his books. Afterwards, I became suspicious and opened the parcel. It contained sealed parcels. One of them was open, and I saw $2 bills. The man came back and rang the bell and tried to get in, but I had locked the doors. Then the police came and he ran away.

Found $8,800 Hid in Park.
Detective Taylor was called. He told of taking Jack Lett to High Park and finding $8,876.70 in a Canadian Express bag. He went to the home of Mrs. Walter Lett, 534A, St Clair avenue west, and recovered $1,000 from her. The police still keep this money, although they have turned over the rest to the express company.

Detective McConnell, who arrested the Lett brothers on November 5, told of finding $99.90 in silver in the Howard High Park Methodist Church.

Dougall’s Connection
The Inspector of Detectives, George Kennedy, gave evidence. He told of his interview with James Gordon Dougall.

‘Dougall said that he had known the Letts since he was a boy, that he had been raised by them. He said he saw Lett six weeks before at the Duke of Connaught Hotel at Hamilton. They discussed the possibility of robbing a jewelry store in Hamilton, which displayed a tray of diamonds in the window. They even walked down and looked at the window. Dougall said they would be caught if they broke the window. They also talked of robbing a Hamilton bank. They walked back to the hotel and met a railwayman named Cox. Cox said he knew an express messenger who left the Union Station often carrying between $60,000 and $100,000.

‘Later John Lett called up Dougall and asked if he knew a boarding place convenient to the Union Station. Dougall suggested a hotel at the corner of Spadina and King. Lett went there and registered under the name of Miller. Dougall admitted that he was to get some of the booty.

‘Again Jack Lett called up Dougall and asked him to get two keys made for a Ford and a McLaughlin car. Dougall said he hadn’t time to do it.

‘On the morning of the robbery Jack Lett called up Dougall, said he was speaking from a church, and asked Dougall to meet him. Dougall refused, say he had an appointment to go to Gravenhurst with a young lady that morning.’

James Henry, the police court stenographer, read the interview that he took down between Inspector Kennedy and Dougall. Dougall said that Jack Lett had previously robbed a bank and stolen a McLaughlin car in Hamilton.

Walter Lett’s Part.
Inspector Kennedy told of questioning Walter Lett:

‘He admitted bringing his brother to Toronto from Barrie and giving him a captain’s uniform which he, Walter, had worn. Walter Lett said he enlisted early in the war in a Forestry battalion, obtained his captaincy, and went to England.

‘He also admitted receiving $1,000 from his brother, which he knew was stolen. This money he gave to his wife.

‘Jack Lett, when I questioned him, admitted holding up the messengers and taking the money. He said that when he got to the roadway he expected to meet Dougall and Walter Lett, and when they were not there he was frightened. He hid some of the money in High Park and left a bag of silver in the High Park Methodist Church, from where ‘phoned to Dougall. He said he went to Mrs. Robertson’s, then left another parcel there. When the detectives came he ran back to High Park and hod. A man with a car drove past. He held him up, took his car and drove to Medhurst, where he abandoned the car. He purchased a ticket to North Bay, and got off at McTeir, and returned. After the robbery Walter saw Jack at Barrie and received $1,000 from him. He also tried to get his brother over to the United States.’

Walter Lett Acquitted.
Walter Lett was acquitted of the charge of conspiracy to rob the company, at the direction of Chief Justice Meredith, because there was no evidence against him, but Walter Lett is still held on the charge of receiving stolen money.

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“12 autres années de bagne pour Racine,” La Presse. November 21, 1980. Page A4.

Les tribulationsjudiciaires de Denis «Poker» Racine, 24 ans, en marge de toutes les frasques qu’il a commises ces derniers mois, bien qu’il ait été en prison depuis près de quatre ans, font partie de l’histoire ancienne depuis sa condamnation à 12 années additionnelles de bagne par le juge Jean-Guy Boilard, en Cour criminelle de Saint-Jérôme.

Cette peine, qui est consécutive à toute autre que peut purger Racine,vient de lui être imposée après qu’il eut été reconnu coupable, au terme du procès qu’il a subi au début du mois, pours a participation à une prise d’otages qui a duré 57 heures, au pénitencier Archambault de Sainte Anne-des-Plaines, en septembre 1979. 

Enprononçant cette sentence qu’il a qualifiée de sévère, le juge Boilard a expliqué qu’il avait pris en considération l’important rôle qu’avait tenu «Poker» Racine au cours de l’événement. L’un des trois mutins qu il’accompagnaient, Pierre Thibault, âgé de 20 ans, avait notamment été acquitté, après qu’il eut été établi qu’il avait justement été forcé par Racine à prendre part à la mutinerie.

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“Since 1977, the Service has operated separate units for those inmates who are considered to seriously threaten the safety of others. Originally, Special Handling Units were established within Millhaven Institution and the Correctional Development Centre. These units were subsequently replaced by purpose-built facilities at Saskatchewan Penitentiary and Regional Reception Centre (Quebec).

A relatively small number of inmates, because of their violent behaviour in the institutions, have demonstrated that they require controls beyond those found within a maximum security institution. Since the inception of special handling/high maximum security units, 558 inmates (to 1989.10.05) have been
incarcerated in these units. In general, these inmates are more likely to have been sentenced for a violent crime (only 15 had no previous record of violence), more likely to commit indictable violent acts while incarcerated, and more likely to commit violent acts when released than is the rest of the offender population. Specifically, this small group of individuals have been involved in 974 staff and inmate assaults within the institutions, 155 murders, 44 attempted murders, and 208 hostage incidents.

WHAT IS NEEDED
Violence within the institutions cannot be tolerated. Those inmates who commit violent acts must be removed from the normal inmate population and subjected to increased controls until such time as they indicate that they can control their violent behaviour and return to normal association. During the period of removal from the normal inmate population, the inmate must be required to address his violent tendencies, and thus, the Service must provide him the means to do SQ.

It is important to note that the removal of the violent inmate from the normal inmate population serves two purposes. Firstly, it reinforces the Service’s stance that violent acts will not be tolerated, providina a denunciation of violence. Secondly, it reduces the risk of violence in the institutions, creating an
environment in which staff and inmates can interact with a reasonable assurance of safety and in which an active intervention approach is tenable. 

OPTIONS CONSIDERED
A number of methods of removing inmates from the population were examined. The approaches considered were: punitive dissociation; administrative segregation; transfer to another institution; transfer to a Regional Psychiatric or Treatment Centre; and transfer to the currently existing high maximum security units. As well, a more controlled maximum security institution and a small hiah maximum security unit in each region were considered. It was the consensus of the committee that these approaches met neither the needs of the violent inmates nor the responsibilities of the Service in relation to these inmates.

PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE
It is recommended that a regime be established for the violent inmates, which will provide both reasonable controls and programming designed to meet their specific needs, especially those related to their violent behaviour. Such a regime could be implemented in the existing high maximum security facilities. 

I. WHO SHOULD BE TRANSFERRED TO A SPECIAL UNIT?
A Service-wide policy of “zero tolerance” is warranted for homicide, hostage-taking, and serious assault. All inmates who commit these acts of violence should be automatically transferred to the special unit for a set period of time during which a comprehensive assessment would,be undertaken. The assessment would be used to determine whether the inmate requires the intervention and controls afforded by the regime established in the unit or whether other options such as placement in a Regional Psychiatric Centre are viable. 

Other inmates who commit less serious acts of violence, who are strongly suspected of committing a violent act, who make serious threats, or who otherwise show a propensity for violence may be considered for transfer to a special unit, if such a transfer is determined to be the only viable option to ensure the safety of others. If transferred to the special unit, these inmates would remain in the unit for a set period to undergo a comprehensive assessment to determine whether the inmate should remain in the unit for treatment or whether other options should be pursued. 

II. DIFFERENTIATION OF VIOLENCE
Violent behaviour is symptomatic of a variety of underlying causes. Violent inmates can be considered as falling within one of the following broad categories:

i) those who are.psychiatrically disturbed;
ii) those who are behaviourally disordered; and
iii) those who resort to violence to achieve their own objectives.

These different underlying causes of violence have implications for any program regime for the affected inmates.

i) The psychiatrically disturbed inmates must have access to appropriate treatment. This treatment could be provided bv Regional Psychiatric Centres or by provincial psychiatric institutions. However, the transfer of these violent and unpredictable inmates to these facilities would likely prove disruptive and hinder or curtail treatment programs for others. – Therefore, it is recommended that a psychiatric wing be created within the unit designated for violent inmates.

ii) Behaviourally disordered inmates are those with fundamental control problems, whether they lack internal behavioural controls or whether they choose not to apply any control. Included in this group are inmates who react explosively to situations, those who act impulsively, and those who act violently under the influence of an intoxicant. An appropriate regime for these inmates must combine a decrement of external controls while fostering the development of internalized behaviour control. Specific programming approaches should include components such as conflict resolution, anger management, and alcohol and drug treatment.

iii) Functionally violent inmates are those who consciously and deliberately resort to violence as a means of achieving their own objectives. These inmates may use violence to effect an escape, to collect debts, or to intimidate others; Many of these individuals are capable of participating in prescribed activities but it is difficult to assess their commitment to altering their violent behaviour. These inmates should be constructively occupied and should be counselled to reject violence as a means of accomplishing goals. 

III. CONTROL
It is evident that any regime for the management of violent inmates must have an element of control. These inmates have demonstrated by their violent behaviour that they require control beyond that found in a normal maximum security institution.

However, the controls should be no more restrictive than that required to ensure a reasonable level of safety for staff and inmates. Although inmates may initially be subjected to severely restricted freedom of movement and association, these
restrictions should be gradually lifted as the inmates show that they can behave more responsibly.

Restraint equipment should be applied on an exceptional basis, only for those inmates whose performance indicated a need for such control. Face-to-face contact, free of barriers, is a vital element of any counselling’or treatment program. Staff safety in such situations can be assured through a team approach or interviews can be conducted across a table with the staff member’s back to the door if necessary. 

V. ASSESSMENT
Each inmate transferred to the special unit would be required to undergo a comprehensive assessment in order to determine an appropriate intervention strategy and the required level of control. In view of the high incidence of mental disorders revealed bv the “Mental Health Survey of Federally Incarcerated
Offenders”, psychological and psychiatric components to the assessment are crucial. As a result of this assessment, a detailed correctional treatment plan to specifically address the inmate’s violent behaviour would be prepared for and with the inmate, clearly defining expectations of and potential outcomes for the inmate. The ultimate objective of the plan should be correcting the violent behaviour so that the inmate may return to a normal population at the earliest reasonable time. A critical element of the plan would be in which institution, treatment facility or special unit the intervention strategy would be most effective. Therefore, at this point, a decision would be made to transfer the inmate from or to retain him in the special unit. If the inmate is transferred, the receiving facility would be expected to use the correctional treatment plan developed following assessment as a base document. 

VI. PROGRAM SCOPE
Programming within the special unit should be designed to assist the inmate in addressing his need to change his behaviour, to allow him to participate in constructive activities, and to allow him to demonstrate increasing capacity to interact with others with decreased controls. The following elements are considered as essential programming components:

• psychiatric and psychological intervention;
• treatment programs, such as anger management, conflict resolution, or substance abuse treatment;
• employment opportunities ranging from in-cell activities to a workshop setting;

personal development opportunities, such as living skills, self-help groups, or culturally-based activities;
• recreational opportunities designed to foster effective use of leisure time;
• pastoral counselling. 
….

CONCLUSIONS
1. The Service needs a special facility for the control and treatment of violent inmates. The current approach and operation of the high maximum security units does not adequately address the needs of those individuals.

2. All inmates who commit murder, hostage-taking, or serious assault will be transferred to such a facility for assessment.

3. Other inmates who demonstrate a propensity for violence may be considered for placement alternatives, including transfer to the facility.

4. An individualized correctional treatment plan will be developed to specifically address the causes of the violent behaviour, prescribe treatment options, and outline a plan for return to a normal population at the earliest possible time.

5. Psychiatrically disturbed violent inmates require separate and special intervention within the facility.

6. Participation in programming and-success in addressing identified needs will determine transfer to normal population.

7. The operation of the facility shall include:

a) comprehensive assessment capability to identify the causes of the inmate’s violence;
b) active intervention with inmates to encourage them to address their violent behaviour;
c) capacity to address the individual needs of inmates with psychiatric problems; d) the lowest level of control possible; restraint equipment to be used only as response to threatening or violent behaviour and based on individual assessment of risk; .
e) open contact among staff and inmates;
f) a team approach to programming involving case management, security, program staff and the inmate;
g) incentives to encourage and motivate constructive use of time;
h) ongoing staff training to increase awareness/understanding of violent behaviour and appropriate intervention techniques; and
I) the maintenance of clear and close links with case workers responsible for the follow-up with the violent inmates in the normal institutions.

8. Admission to and release from the facility will be determined by a committee with national authority.”

High Maximum Security: A Discussion Paper. Ottawa: Correctional Service of Canada, 1989. 

Photographs: Special Handling Unit and

Regional Reception Centre at Saint-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec, 1986-87.

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“In keeping with these developments, probationers have been subject  to a growing range of penal controls. During the 1950s, probation involved the offender occasionally meeting with, and reporting to, his or her probation officer, and being bound by the general conditions of probation orders, as well as, no doubt, being subject to a variety of informal local controls. Today, however, many probationers, in addition to the purview and surveillance of a probation officer, and through the more specific and specialized community-correctional conditions of probation orders, encounter members of the Salvation Army and John Howard and Elizabeth Fry societies, as well as the numerous church, business, native, and other community groups and volunteers charged with penal processing. It is difficult to conceive that the growth of the Ministry of Correctional Services’ community satellites has not entailed the evolution of increasingly pervasive models of penal control.
….
Ominous tendencies are…evident in the case of community service orders. They, too, increase the range and intensity of formal conditions of probation. Yet the program has ideological appeal across the political spectrum. Within corrections, it enjoys the support of judges, correctional officials, and numerous private-sector groups who have become involved in the provision of community-service-order programs in Ontario. Much of the appeal of community service orders derives from their perceived reparative effects. But, as Axon has observed in her study of community service orders in Canada, what Community [Service] is, in fact, is unpaid work done by the offender in the community. Whether or not this unpaid labour constitutes reparation is another matter entirely.’

The appeal of community service orders – as with community corrections more generally – also derives from their emphasis on community. As Stanley Cohen has observed, the word ‘community’ is not only ‘rich in symbolic power, but it lacks any negative connotations.’ Different, competing, and even contradictory assumptions can be brought together under the ambiguous concept of community. Leaving aside the problematic issue of how ‘community’ should be define, the extent to which offenders are members of the community that benefits from their own unpaid labour is doubtful. Studies of community service orders in Ontario, and in Canada more generally, suggest that those subject to the program are often young, unemployed males, who are first-time offenders, do not belong to clubs or organizations, and have had ‘poor education with few prospects of obtaining anything but ‘dead end’ jobs” (Axon). What would be the benefit to these offenders, it seems, are better opportunities to become members of the community’s paid labour force, rather than being subjected to forced labour.

At the same time, one segment of the wider community has clearly benefited from, and been remunerated through, community service orders: private-sector groups have derived financial as well as ideological benefits from the development of programs. They pressured the Ministry of Correctional Services to develop community-service-order programs and to make contracts with them for operating the programs. Following from this, community service orders have more to provide jobs for those affiliated with the John Howard Society, the Elizabeth Fry Society, the Salvation Army, and other groups, than for offenders. In the process, the incomes of these groups increased. They and their quasi-civil service staff benefited from the perception that community service orders ‘helped humanize the correctional system while providing them with worthwhile jobs (Menzies). In a variety of ways, and similarly to the situation of community-service-order programs elsewhere, ‘in reality, the service which the offender gives is not to an abstract ‘community’ but rather to those agencies and individuals who are willing to be involved with offenders’. (Axon) Overall, community service orders strengthen the net of penal control not only by formally extending probation conditions, but also in expanding the range of non-state agencies becoming involved in – an financially dependent on – the exercise of control.”

– Maeve W. McMahon, The Persistent Prison? Rethinking Decarceration and Penal Reform. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992. pp. 120-122.

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“Three Go For Trial In Train Hold-Up Case,” Toronto Star. November 15, 1918. Page 04.

John Lett, Walter Lett, and Gordon Dougal Committed on Story to Detectives.

On their own admissions as given to Detective Mitchell after being cautioned, John Lett, Capt. Walter Lett, and Gordon Dougal, were committed for trial by Col. Denison in the Police Court to-day. The Crown submitted that it was not a case for bail, and the trio remain in custody.

The men are the alleged conspirators in the hold-up near Sunnyside on October 23 when $20,000 was stolen from messengers of the Canadian Express Company.

‘John Lett, when cautioned,’ Detective Mitchell testified, ‘admitted holding up the two messengers at the point of a revolver, taking $20,000, and jumping off the train at Sunnyside, with the money.’

‘Where was it, in a box or safe?’ queried the colonel.

‘Safe, I think,’ replied Mitchell.

‘He admitted throwing a parcel of it away in the High Park district. I later accompanied him there and found the package. It contained $9,000.’

Walter Lett, the detective continued, admitted going to Barrie the day before the arrest and receiving $1,000 from John Lett, knowing it to have been stolen. He further admitted that his brother had come to his farm at Jordan and had told him of the proposed hold-up. He further said that the day after the robbery he came to Toronto to look for John, his brother.

What Dougal Says.
Gordon Dougal admitted, after being cautioned, that John Lett and he met the night prior to the robbery to discuss the robbery. It was arranged then that Dougal was to meet him the morning of the robbery at Sunnyside, which he admitted leaving the house to do. The meeting did not take place. He further admitted after arriving at the Union Station he had a telephone message from Lett about 8 a.m. – a hour after the robbery. Lett told him that he had got the money. Lett said that he was phoning from a church and wanted to know why Dougall didn’t meet him. He told him he had got the money and had hidden it under a rock pile.

In the church the police a black club bag, which belonged to Williamson, the Canadian Express messenger. The bag contained $99.90 in silver and papers belonging to the company.

Cross-examined by Frank Denton, K.C., counsel for the Letts, Detective Mitchell replied that the admissions included references to another man.

‘Did not the admissions allege that this man was the brains behind the hold-up – that he prompted John Lett and Dougal?’ ‘Yes.’

‘Was there any admission that Dougal was to get any of the money?’ asked Mr. W. K. Murphy, counsel for Dougal.

‘That was not suggested.’

‘If the Crown Attorney of the other court wants the other man he is able to get him,’ Col. Denison commented.

Find Reservoirs
The crocks of exhilaration cached beneath the sidewalk belonging to Mrs. Annie Portchuk, Adelaide street west, did not waste their sweetness on the desert air. According to police evidence in the Women’s Court to-day, they formed the reservoir from which the pop bottles which the lady retailed at $3.50 per, were filled. This marks the second time within the week that the Porichucks have moved in court circles. The record of to-day’s visit includes the fine, $200 and costs or three months.

Murdock Henry had a clothes sideline. He pleaded guilty to-day to augmenting his wardrobe with some $50 worth of garments to which he had no right. Most of these, the police stated, had since been recovered. The colonel was told that the quick change of costume set had been Henry’s first bad break. The colonel gave him the right to don the becoming Jail Farm uniform for the next 15 days.

Found guilty of defrauding Mrs. Dorothy Whitaker, wife of a soldier overseas, out of five $100 Victory Bonds, and of stealing an automobile the property of Jas. O’Leary and Ed. Murphy, W. F. Grimwood goes to the Ontario Reformatory.

Mrs. Whitaker stated that she had given him the Victory Bonds, 1917 issue, last November to put in a safe in the Bank of Montreal. She had since asked for them and couldn’t get them. In connection with these, Mr. S.N. Gibbons testified to having sold a motor car to Grimwood for $700. ‘In part payment for this, I received four 1917 Victory Bonds from Grimwood,’ Mr. Gibbons said. Mrs. Whittaker further remarked that she had given Grimwood $1,700 in Government pay checks and her own savings. This she gave him, she said, to invest in the Mossop Hotel, which he told her he was to convert into a club.

Two offenders against the O.T.A. got docked $300 and costs or three months in as many minutes. Harry Hurd was a retailer. He kept the bowl flowing on the broad highway. He that ran might drink, if he stopped and paid $1 for the quencher. John Parker added to the H. C. of L. He likewise retailed. His wee deoch and doris cost $5.50 per. Art Penn both makes and sells. ‘He has his own labels and makes a profitable business of it,’ said the Crown Attorney. Fined $800 and costs or five months.

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“LE CENTRE FEDERAL DE FORMATION: Une prison sans barreaux ou les jeunes
détenus deviennent des hommes,” Le Devoir. November 12, 1955. Page 1 &10.  

par Jean Benoit

C’aurait fort bien pu être le pavillon d’un club de golf, ou encore un chic restaurant pour fins. gourmefs. N’eût été les hautes murailles, flanquées de tourelles aux quatre coins, l’édifice de l’administration du Centre fédéral de formation, à St-Vincent-de-Paul, m’aurait fait penser à certaines maisons cossues de Laval-Ouest.

La porte d’entrée à peine fermée derrière moi, je devais aller de surprise en surprise. Je
m’attendais à traverser deux ou trois grilles de fer cadenassées à double tour, avec à chacune un garde
armé en faction. En fait, j’ai franchi trois seuils, trois portes qui se sont ouvertes devant moi au
signal d’un bouton électrique, comme I’on en trouve dans n’importe quelle maison de rapport de
Montréal. Un garde, dans un bureau vitré, contrôle les entrées et les sorties. Comme tous ceux que je
verrai circuler dans les bureaux et dans l’enceinte de l’institution, il n’est pas armé.

Comme il m’avait fallu une permission
spéciale du Commissaire
fédéral des pénitenciers, j’étais
loin de m’attendre à visiter une
prison sans barreaux. Je me doutais
bien d’y trouver un régime
moins rude que dans les pénitenciers
proprement dits, puisqu’il
s’agit d’un Centre de formation,
mais je ne croyais pas y découvrir
un mode de vie identique à
celui des pensionnats ou des casernes
militaires

 

Car. c’est bien. Là l’impression
générale qui m’est restée des quatre
journées entières passées au
Cenlre fédéral de formation de
St-Vincent-de-Paul. J’y ai vu les
jeunes détenus en classe, au travail
dans les ateliers d’apprentissage,
au jeu dans le gymnase et
aux exercices militaires dans l’enceinte
des murs. J’ai vu les dortoirs.
le réfectoire, le parloir, tout1
comme dans les collèges. J’ai vu
des professeurs, des surveillants
en uniformes de gardes. En aucun
moment je n’ai aperçu de gardeschiourmes.

La fonction du Centre fédéral
de formation est comme son nom
l’indique, de pourvoir à la réhabilitation
de jeunes gens condamnes
au pénitencier et susceptibles d’è
ti e réadaptés à une vie honnête et
normale à l’expiration de leur peine.
Ce Centre n’est pas une école:
de réforme ou une ferme industri
elle. Tous ses pensionnaires vieil
lient du pénitencier voisin de StV’inccnt-dc-Paul,
où ils avaient été
incarcérés pour des sentences minimal de deux ans.

Deux fois par mois, cl plus souvent
si nécessaire, une commission
sélective, composée des sous-directeurs
et des préposés au classement
du pénitencier et du Centre
de formation, étudie les dossiers
et interroge les nouveaux venus
dans le but de découvrir ceux qui
donnent le moindre espoir rie réhabilitation.
Les sujets choisis seront
par la suite transférés au
Centre et soumis au programme
de formation. 

J’ai eu le rare privilège d’assister
à une de ces séances de sélection.
On m’avait énuméré les quatre
facteurs servant de base au
choix: peine maximum de cinq
ans: première condamnation pénitencière;
âges minimum et maximum
de I8 à 25 ans: détenus susceptibles
de réhabilitation. Mais,
j’ai pu constater que les membres
de la commission ajoutent à ces
facteurs un sens profond de la
compréhension humaine qui fait
que chaque détenu est certain d’obtenir
le maximum de chance pour
son transfert du pénitencier au
Centre.

A la séance particulière où j’ai
assisté, sept détenus sur neuf ont

été choisis. Dans les sept cas la
décision a été unanime. Quant aux
deux rejets, ils furent décidés
non pas d’après les dossiers des
détenus mais d’après leur altitude
devant les questions posées. 

Le rôle de la Commission sélective
est d’une importance capitale,
puisque lout le succès du Centre
de formation repose sur elle. Que
les membres choisissent un trop

grand nombre de détenus indésirables tout le programme de réhabilitation
est alors fortement
compromis.    

Les lieux

Le Centre fédéral de formation,
peut-on lire dans une brochure
rédigée par le directeur de l’Institution,
n’cxiste en réalité que depuis
le 1er août 1952. Cependant,
on en a conçu l’idée en 1929, alors
que le gouvernement fédéral décida
de faire l’acquisition du vaste
terrain situé immédiatement à
l’est du pénitencier de Saint-Vincent-de-Paul.

Les travaux d’excavation débutèrent
en 1929, et en 1930-31 commencèrent
les travaux préliminaires
sur remplacement tout d’abord appelé l’établissement Laval.
Des détenus étaient employés comme
niain-d’oeuvre ci au début, les
travaux de construction furent plutôt
lents. A cause du conflit mondial.
qui éclataon en 1939, et pour
d’autres considérations, le projet
lut abandonné à ce moment-là.
pour être repris activement en
1959. Des contrats furent alors
adjugés pour la construction des

principaux édifices, dont la plupart
furent, achevés à l’hiver de
1952. Le 1er avril de cette année-là, 149 détenus furent transférés du
pénitencier de St-Vinecnt-de-Paul:
ce fut la date officielle de la naissance
de celte nouvelle institution,
connue depuis 1951 sous le
nom de Centre fédéral de Formation.

La superficie à l’intérieur des
murs d’enceinte est de quelque
25 acres, dont près d’un tiers
sert de préau réservé à la récréation et la pratique des sports
en plein air. Physiquement, le
Centre Fédéral de Formation se
compose des édifices suivants:

Bureaux de direction et du
conseil d’administration, de classement
et de comptabilité; cour
du directeur; services anthropométriques; salle des surveillants
et parloir;

Deux chapelles, d’une capacité
totale de 609, pour les détenus
catholiques et protestants: 

Une infirmerie de 18 lits et
une clinique dentaire, sous la
direction d’un chirurgien et
d’un dentiste; 

Un centre d’admission et d’orientation
pour les nouveaux
venus; 

Un bloc cellulaire (actuellement
en construction); 

Trois centres d’apprentissage,
d’une capacité de 200 élèves,
pour renseignement primaire de
17 métiers; 

Un gymnase, servant également
de salle de récréation, de
théâtre et de cinéma, d’une capacité
de 600 personnes; 

Une bibliothèque, contenant
plus de 3,000 ouvrages divers,
et de nombreuses revues locales
et; étrangères; rédigées en français
et en anglais; 

Une école de trois classes,
d’une capacité totale de 60 élèves,
sous la direction d’un maître
d’études et de deux adjoints; 

Une cuisine principale, flanquée
de deux réfectoires d’une
capacité totale de 600 personnes,
où les détenus prennent
tous leurs repas; 

Un magasin central, pour la
réception, vérification et distribution
des approvisionnements; 

Une lingerie et une buanderie; 

Des ateliers d’entretien et de
construction générale;

     

Quatre dortoirs d’une capacité de 100 lits chacun. Les dortoirs ont dix étages. Chaque
étage comporte deux ailes distinctes,
composées chacune d’une
salle d’ablution, d’une salle
de récréation, de trois chambrées
de six lits chacune, de
sept chambrettes individuelles, auxquelles les détenus sont assignés au mérite. Les deux ailes
de chaque étage sont séparées
par un bureau cloisonné à l’usage
des surveillants en service.
Les détenus font eux-mémes le lavage et le repassage
de leur linge personnel, dans
les salles d’ablution, qui sont
munies de cuves, séchoirs à la
vapeur, planches et fers à repasser.
La literie est lessivée
à la buanderie centrale. Les
salles de récréation servent de lieu de réunion durant les heures
libres, soit pour lire, écrire écouter la radio, jouer aux cartes, aux dames, aux échecs, etc…

Programme formateur

A leur admission au Centre Fédaral de Formation, les nouveaux venus, qui sont transférés en

groupes d’une vingtaine par mois

s’ont d’abord admis au centre d’orientation, ils sont interviewés dès le debut par le directeur et par la commission de classement. 

Cette commission est le pivot de l’application du programme de traitement des détenus. Elle se compose du sous-directeur, de l’aumonier du maître d’études, du chef de cuisine, et des préposés au classement, à l’apprentissage et aux travaux. Elle se réunit hebdomadairement, pour déterminer le programme d’orientation des nouveaux arrivées; étudier certains cas particuliers; modifier le programme de certains autres; examiner les demandes de clémence et suggérer la liberation prématurée et conditionelle des cas méritants.

Au cours de cette période d’orientation de quatre semaines, les réglements, privilèges et obligations sont expliqués à fond aux nouveaux venus. Ils suivent des cours de culture physique, participent à des jeux organisés, reçoivent des instructionss en sociologie, en hygiene physique et mentale, etc. Ils sont soumis à des tests d’aptitude, en vue de les
diriger diriger vers l’apprentissage d’un métier de leur choix. A la fin de cette période de quatre semaines, ils sont assignés à une

chambree et sont habituellement placés dans une équipe de travail comme manoeuvres en attendant l’occasion de commencer leur apprentissage. Lorsque ce moment est venu, en leur enseigne

d’abord les éléments du métier choisi, et ils sont ensuite versésà un cours de formation proprement dit.

On enseigne, l’apprentissage des métiers suivants:

Ajustage mécanique

briquetage

dessin industriel
ébénisterie

électricité

finissage

forge

maçonnerie

mécanique automobile

menuiserie

métal en feuille

plâtrage

plomberie

rembourrage

tuyauterie

vernissage

soudure.

Ces cours, d’une durée moyennes de dix mois, correspondent à ceux donnés par les centres d’aprentissages provinciaux, subventionnes par le gouvernement provincial, les entrepreneurs généraux en construcction de batiments, et les syndicats ouvriers. Ces cours sont donnés dans de vastes ateliers, eclairés à profusion, munis d’outillage des plus moderne, par des techniciens diplomés d’écoles techniques d’arts ou de metiers, à la solde de l’institution. Ces instructeurs avaient acquis de l’expérience pratique dans l’industrie, avant leur engagement: après leur entrée au service pénitentiaire, ils ont reçu une formation pédagogique solide. Les classes se composent d’un nombre maximum de 15 élèves dont les progrès sont notés et enregistrés mensuellement. A la fin de leur apprentissage, les élèves sont affectés aux équipes d’entretien et de construction, pour y acquerir de l’expériencce pratique, jusqu’au jour de leur libération.

Lcs détenus travaillent de 8 h.

à 5 h., du lundi au vendredi inclusivement. Le samedi avant-midi est réservé au nettoyage général des locaux. Les offices religieux ont lieu vers 8 h. 30 le dimanche matin: immédiatement apres, les détenus obtiennent, de la cantine, des cigarettes, du tabac,des friandises, et autres menus articles, à même le résidu de à leur pécule. Les détenus sont rémunières à raison de 12, 18, ou 24 sous par jour, selon leur anciennete, leur conduite, leur travail et leurs bonnes dispositions.

A tous ceux qui n’ont pas obtenu leur brevet d’études de sixiéme année, on enseigne au minimun les elements de la langue francaise, de la langue anglaise, et de l’arithmétique. Plus de 150 détenus poursuivent, dans leur  temps libre, l’étude de coins divers. 

Par correspondance. Exceptionnellement, on enseigne également à l’école le solfege,la musique, la peinture, le dessin artistique et commercial, le dactylographie, la sténographie, comptabilité et les écritures.  

Des offices religieux ont lieu

tous les dimanches et jours de fêtes
religieuse. Les détenus catholiques et protestants y assistent, 

dans deux chapelles distinctes. Une retraite d’une semaine est prêchée annuellement à tous les détenus par des prédicateurs étrangers, durant la première semaine du carême. L’aumônier est en service régulièrement tous les jiours. Il circule à volonté dans l’institution, les ateliers et parmi les équipes, et accorde des entrevues particulières aux détenus

qui le demandent. Le Centre Fédéral de Formation est le seul pénitencier canadien où le Messe de Minuit est célébrée.

  

Les détenus sont autorisés à recevoir la visite de leurs parents immédiats une fois par mois. 

Normalement cette viste est d’une durée d’une demie heure. Ce privilège est accordé 

sur semaine et, exceptionnellement, le dimanche, lorsque les parents demeurrent à une distance considerable de l’institution 

ou que leurs occupations les empechenent de venir sur semaine. Les détenus ont la permission d’écrire une lettre par semaine

à. leurs parents de qui, cependant, ils peuvent recevoir autant de lettres que ces derniers veulent leur en écrire.

Les détenus de conduite, travail et disposition» exemplaires profiteront à peu près tous du privilège d’une libération conditionnelle surveillée. Depuis la fondation de l’institution au 31 mars 1955, de 499 détenus libérés, 329, soit 66%, ont bénéficié d’une réduction moyenne de trois mois de peine.

….      

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“Fifteen Years’ Imprisonment,” Toronto Globe. November 11, 1918. Page 09.

Stiff Sentence Is Imposed Upon Giovanni di Francesco

Two Others Announced

Giovanni di Francesco, found guilty of manslaughter in connection with the death of Dominic Zangarie, whom he admitted killing on a plea of self-defense, was on Saturday sentenced by Mr. Justice Riddell to fifteen years’ imprisonment.

William Nicholls, who pleaded guilty of doing grievous bodily harm to Martha Hassal, was sentenced to ten years in the penitentiary. Nicholls had been released on parole from penitentiary, where he was serving a term of two years for housebreaking. The unexpired term will run concurrently with his ten-year sentence. As the prisoner left the dock, his young wife, who was sitting in the court, on failing to attract his attention, fainted, and had to be carried out.

Everett Struit, who was charged with Nicholls, and whom the jury found guilty of attempting to do bodily harm to Martha Hassal, was sentenced to eighteen months in the Ontario Reformatory.

Two Years for Pearsall
William Pearsall, found guilty of criminal negligence arising out of the death of Joseph Hughes, who was killed when the car which Pearsall was driving turned over on Danforth avenue last July, was sentenced to two months [sic] in the penitentiary.

In announcing the sentence, his Lordship declared that the driving of motor cars by men under the influence of liquor must stop. ‘It is bad enough,’ he continued, ‘to be at the mercy of those naturally reckless or too young to be in charge of motors without having men under the influence of liquor driving through our streets. You were guilty of manslaughter, but I am not going to whack the jury over your shoulders because of their mistaken clemency.’

‘There is no law that allows a man to drive fifteen miles an hour,’ said Mr. Justice Riddell Saturday, on postponing sentence on Norman Cowie for a week in order that more inquiries might be made. ‘The law says he must not exceed fifteen miles an hour, but in some cases that is too fast. Auto drivers must think.’

Cowie was found guilty of criminal negligence in connection with the death of Sarah Livingstone, who was run down and killed by his motor car.

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“$9,000 In Bills Found By Police,” Toronto Globe. November 7, 1918. Page 09.

Practically All Stolen From Canadian Express Co. Now Recovered

Covered over with leaves a bag containing $9,000 in bills was found by detectives yesterday afternoon in the yard at the rear of a house on Garden avenue. With this find the police have recovered all but $150 of the $20,000 stolen in the Buffalo express hold-up on October 23. The remaining $150 is alleged to have been spent by John Lett in travelling expenses.

Shackled with handcuffs, John Lett was taken by detectives through the residential section of High Park yesterday to try and locate the spot where he left the money. Before leaving headquarters he drew a map of where he thought he had gone after jumping off the train at Sunnyside. This diagram took the officers to Garden avenue, and after a lengthy search they found the spot. The bag had been thrown over a fence, and was lying between the fence and a chicken coop. It had not been disturbed, and the leaves that partly covered it from view had been blown over it by the wind.
——-
“Letts and Dougall Get A Remand,” Toronto Globe. November 7, 1918. Page 09.

Alleged Train Bandits Will Appear in Court Next Wednesday

John Lett, the alleged train bandit, Captain Walter Lett, his brother, and J. G. B. Dougall, Chief Clerk of the G. T. R. ticket office, appeared yesterday in the Police Court, and were remanded in custody till Wednesday, November 13th. All three are charged with conspiring to rob the Canadian Express Company of $20,000.

Besides the charge of conspiracy, three charges of robbery were preferred against John Lett as follows: Robbing the express messengers of $20,00, robbing H. S. Fergus of his motor car, and robbing the Union Bank, corner of Church and Wellesley streets of $1,200 last May.

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“Three Men Are Arrested,” Toronto Globe. November 6, 1918. Page 09.

Face Charges in Connection With Express Car Robbery

UNION BANK CASE, TOO

With the arrest of three men yesterday, the police say they have apprehended the persons implacted in the Canadian Express daylight train robbery, when $20,000 in money was stolen on October 23 last on a Grand Trunk train en route from Toronto to Buffalo, the express messengers in charge of the car being ‘held up’ by a bandit between the Union Station and Sunnyside. John Lett, alleged to be the man who robbed the messengers, is also charged with robbing the Church street branch of the Union Bank of Canada on May 2, and obtaining the sum of $1,200. His brother, Walter Lett, was arrested at a downtown hotel, and is held on a charge of conspiracy, and of receiving stolen goods. Early yesterday afternoon Gordon Dougall, 97 Spencer avenue, a clerk in the Grand Trunk ticket office at the Union Station, was also arrested on a charge of conspiracy.

Inspector John Miller of the Provincial Police, Detectives Mitchell, McConnell and Nichols, spent all Monday night searching for John Lett and his brother. Walter was arrested early Tuesday morning, but it was nearly 7 o’clock in the morning when they caught John Lett, who was wearing the uniform of a C Captain in the Canadian army, and had a revolver in his pocket. He made no resistance.

Three Charges of Robbery
Three charges of robbery, with violence, will face John Lett when he appears in Police Court this morning. He will be charged with holding up the two express messengers, George Williamson and William Wilson, and with stealing a motor car from Mr. H. S. Fergus in High Park, under threat of shooting, and with robbing the Union Bank of $1,200. The fourth charge against the prisoner is conspiracy. It is alleged by the police that Dougall, a chief clerk with the Grand Trunk for eight years, conspired with the two Letts to commit the train robbery.

Dougall was to have received a share of the money, the police state, but, owning to John Lett having to make a hurried exit from the city to avoid arrest, did not get his quota.

John Lett, according to the inspector, did the work of holding up the messengers alone, and hid the stolen money. It is charged that he handed over $1,000 to his brother, and, after leaving over $7,00 in a house in Parkdale, buried $9,000 in the residential section of High Park. After getting rid of the money, it is alleged John Lett commandeered Mr. Fergus’ car in High Park, at the point of a revolver, and drove to Midhurst, where the car was abandoned. From Midhurst Lett purchased a ticket to North Bay, and after riding on the line as far as McTier, got off and doubled back to a nearby town. Here he is said by the police to have put on the military uniform of his brother, Walter. He had been out of Toronto until Monday night. The police learned of his coming to the city, and a close lookout was kept for him. Walter Lett was an officer in the army, and went overseas with the 122nd battalion.

$3,100 is Recovered.
Three thousand one hundred dollars was recovered by the detectives yesterday after the arrests. One hundred dollars was found on the top of a boiler of a Methodist church in the west end of the city. Detectives spent yesterday afternoon searching for the remaining amount that was hidden in the High Park district. The police say that they are unable to find the exact spot where the money was placed, and are doubtful that it will ever be found by them. The bills were in small denominations, and it is feared that they have already been found.

John and Walter Lett are the sons of a Barrie family. Recently Walter has been conducting a small fruit farm near Jordan. They are both six feet in height. John is 32 years of age, and Walter 30. Dougall is also a tall, heavy-set man of 28 years of age. Frank Denton, K.C., has been retained to appear on behalf of John and Walter Lett.

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“Veterans Consider Punishment Too Harsh,” Toronto Globe. November 6, 1918. Page 13.

Soldier Sent To Prison Farm For Refusing To Take Electric Treatment.

(Canadian Press Despatch.)
Kingston, Nov. 5. – The Veterans are protesting against the punishment imposed at Toronto on Pte. John Pope of the 80th Battalion, who was given two years, less one day, at Burwash Prison Farm  because he refused to take electrical treatment for shell-shock. The Veterans regarded such punishment as altogether too harsh, and Commandant Evans was directed to take the matter up with the Minister of Militia.

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01:56 Matt: I’m noticing that you’re saying segregation, you’re not saying solitary.

02:00 Lisa: So the technical official language in the legislation is segregation. To me, it’s a synonym. Solitary confinement, as we’ve known it in Canada, is synonymous with what is endorsed in the legislation as administrative or disciplinary segregation. And there were many years where Corrections took the position, “Well, we don’t have solitary confinement in Canada, that’s nowhere in our legislation. That’s an American practice, that’s not something we do.” Thankfully, that battle is behind us at this point, and there’s no doubt that this government accepts that we have been doing, what is effectively solitary confinement and that is this practice of keeping people in cells for 23 hours a day and subjecting them to sensory deprivation, social isolation, occupational deprivation, and there’s of course now a large literature on the mental and physical harms that flow from that level of isolation.

02:58 Matt: But I mean… And I guess, again, naive and largely informed by a lifetime spent in pop culture. I’ve always just kind of thought that solitary was for the worst of the worst. It’s how you… It’s where you put the people who are super bad.

03:10 Lisa: It’s a common presumption that anyone who gets thrown in the hole is the worst of the worst. And at this point, what we’re… What is very clear from the empirical evidence is that people with mental health problems are actually vulnerable to being placed in segregation. Why is that? Because they’re the ones who often have a difficult time managing in the general prison population. So general population is quite a demanding environment, socially speaking. You have to be able to navigate complex social arrangements, you have to be able to manage friendships in complex ways, in ways that in ordinary society we’re really not put to challenges like that, you have to manage your relationships with correctional officers and do all of this amid conditions of serious social deprivation.

04:02 Lisa: So people with mental health challenges often don’t do well in the prison context, and so they’re at risk because for correctional officers, they have to somehow manage, manage the prisoner society, and so where people are having difficulties there’s only so many resources and options that correctional officers have, and in recent decades placing someone in a solitary cell, is one way of dealing with the problem. But of course, people with mental health problems are not the worst of the worst, far from it, they’re people who need more meaningful social supports and more meaningful programs and interventions than other inmates. And so this has been one of the real dysfunctions of the use of solitary is that the mentally ill are at risk of being placed there, at more risk than other inmate groups, and the effects of solitary are more severe on them.

04:55 Matt: Then that raises… Just to put a fine point on it. You don’t get sentenced to solitary. When you get sent to prison, the judge doesn’t say, “I’m sentencing you to solitary.” It’s just he sends you to prison. And segregation is an administrative decision.

05:09 Lisa: That’s such an important point, it’s absolutely correct. The sentencing judge has no idea whether the person before them is going to serve their time in solitary or not. And in fact, I think if a sentencing judge were aware of this issue it may actually impact their decision not only whether to sentence you to custody, but what the length of that sentence should be, given that it’s a much more severe form of state punishment. So it’s true, the reasons you get placed in solitary have nothing to do with the offence you’re convicted of. And I do think this gives rise to real problems in terms of the proportionality of punishment in our system. I think the most famous case in Canada, and the case that really activated a national consciousness around this issue is the case of Ashley Smith, and she was of course 19 years old when she died in a segregation cell having been held there for many months and Ashley Smith had committed no remotely serious criminal conduct in the community. When she was placed in juvenile custody, she’d done nothing more than throw crab apples at a postal worker. She had difficulties as a young person, no question, but nothing resembling serious criminal conduct, and yet she was subjected to the most severe form of state punishment in our system.

06:32 Matt: So, and this sounds like… You were alluding to this earlier, it’s… It is an overstressed and in some cases probably not that well-trained system in terms of people making this decision as something they see as a tool in the toolbox and not necessarily understanding how to use it in the most appropriate way.

06:50 Lisa: Well, sure, it’s one of the only tools in the toolbox, and that is… I think this new legislation that the Federal Liberal Party have just tabled. You can see indications in this legislation that we’re gonna listen more to healthcare professionals commenting on whether a segregation placement is appropriate or what’s called these placement in these structured intervention units that the new legislation talks about. And so I think there is a growing recognition that this has been one of the only tools in the toolbox for correctional officers and that we need to move away from it, particularly where it has negative health effects and that we need to invest more in our system to delivering interventions and programs that might assist inmates rather than placing them in segregation and seeing their condition and personality deteriorate.

07:50 Matt: So let’s talk a bit about the new legislation. What’s in it?

07:55 Lisa: Well, the main… It’s interesting, there’s been a couple of… This is now the second draft bill we’ve seen in a year from the liberals, so they’ve taken a couple of different sort of shots at this, and this new bill is really a different approach than what we’ve seen before. Previously over the last couple of years the Liberals have added some procedural protections for those placed in segregation, so some limits on reviews and the timing and so on. Whereas this new bill you’re hearing the Minister of Public Safety, Ralph Goodale, promote this bill by saying that it’s really about ending solitary. And in a significant sense, it does do that.

08:35 Lisa: So, the sections in the prison legislation that allowed administrative segregation, which was sort of the most nefarious practice of segregation, those provisions are repealed under this legislation; would be repealed. So the word segregation will no longer even appear in the legislation, they are replaced with what’s called legislation that allows the use of what’s called “structured intervention units” and the really important change here is that inmates who are placed in these units… No, inmates can still be separated from the general prison population and for the same reasons as before, but now they’ll be entitled to get out of their cells each day for a minimum of four hours, and for two of those four hours it has to be for some sort of meaningful social contact or intervention. So there’s still problems with this new bill and there’s critics who are already asking whether it’s gonna be segregation by a new name or segregation light. But I think it’s significant to really change the sort of culture around just abandoning someone in a cell for 23 hours a day and instead saying every human being in our prison system is entitled to contact with other people and to some form of programming and to be out of their cells for at least a few hours a day. I think that’s an important shift, and this legislation promises to do that.

10:04 Matt: So do you think it will pass?

10:08 Lisa: I do, I think that… I think this government… I mean I’m not an insider in the legislative process, but from what I hear, this government is committed to getting this legislation passed before the election and they really do, I think, want to be the government that ends solitary confinement and that implements, in some way at least, the inquest recommendations following the death of Ashley Smith. They’re also facing two major charter lawsuits that are now set to be heard in provincial courts of appeal in Ontario and British Columbia. And the the legal effect of the judgements that we’ve already had in those cases are that the current provisions that allow administrative segregation, are set to fall, they’ve been declared unconstitutional. There’s been a sort of delay in the effect of those judgements to give government a chance to respond, but those provisions are soon going to be void.

11:10 Matt: Right?

11:10 Lisa: So, the government really did have to act, given that that litigation is… The results of that litigation.

11:18 Matt: So this is a bit kind of spinning, at the end of the day. They’re sort of getting ahead of it and saying, “Look, we’re doing something great,” when kind of the writing was already on the wall, and they were gonna be put in that position regardless, right?

11:28 Lisa: Look, they’re government, they’re government, they’re trying to do multiple things at a time and they’re always… And they’re always having to choose what priorities they have, at any given time. This government when it came to power in those mandate letters that were released from the Prime Minister to his various ministers, they said the Public Safety Minister was directed to implement the Ashley Smith recommendations, did they work on that on day two? No. But it’s not surprising that, especially when it comes to prisoner rights, this is not a… Prisoners aren’t a group that most government spend time working for, unfortunately, they’re a very marginalized voiceless population, so it’s not surprising that pushing through with lawsuits even when we had a government that indicated willingness to reform was still hugely necessary in pushing this to the top of the list. Public Safety Minister is probably one of the busiest ministers in this government and I think that it’s understandable that it took… That it took ongoing pressure to push this legislation to the top of his to do list.

– Matt Shepherd and Lisa Kerr, “A LOOK INSIDE SOLITARY (AND THE PROMISE OF REFORM).” Queen’s University Law Podcast Series. October 29, 2018.

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