Posts Tagged ‘segregation’

“Five years after Ontario vowed to curtail its use of solitary confinement, average inmate stays in segregation cells have grown longer, with one prisoner in Ottawa remaining in isolation for at least 835 days, according to newly released provincial data.

The statistical snapshot shows that solitary confinement, the prison practice of isolating inmates for 22 or more hours a day without meaningful human contact, remains a central component of provincial jail operations. It also raises questions about the commitment of the new government of Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford to pending legislation that would severely limit its use.

The most glaring figure comes from the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, where government spreadsheets indicate a Muslim man with mental-health issues, between the ages of 35 and 39, was housed in solitary for at least 835 days. Little more is known about him. United Nations guidelines recommend 15 days as a limit for segregation placements to prevent lasting mental and physical harm. Earlier this year, the previous Liberal government passed legislation that would enshrine those 15-day caps, but it has yet to be proclaimed by the Lieutenant-Governor.” 

– Patrick White, “Length of solitary stays increasing in Ontario prisons, including 835 days for one inmate.The Globe and Mail, November 5, 2018.

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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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“An Ontario judge cited “unduly harsh custodial conditions” in sparing further jail time for a small-time drug dealer who was busted after selling heroin to an undercover police officer.

Robert Duncan served just over 200 days of pretrial custody at the Toronto South Detention Centre (TSDC), according to a judge’s decision.

Duncan was on lockdown 38 times, according to a letter from a security manager at the facility that was filed in court and obtained by CBC Toronto. Almost all the lockdowns were due to staffing shortages and 15 of the incidents lasted longer than 24 hours.

“Duncan’s time in pretrial custody was qualitatively oppressive and physically detrimental,” Justice Katrina Mulligan wrote in her decision allowing Duncan to walk free. Mulligan sentenced Duncan to a fine and probation.

The defence contended that Duncan’s pretrial custody should be multiplied at a standard rate — one point five days for every one day served — and that he deserved an additional credit of 56 days, equal to about a year in custody, which Duncan’s defence successfully argued was appropriate for his crime.

Mulligan also found Duncan, who suffers from chronic back pain, received “questionable” medical treatment at the detention facility.

“He suffered more than others would or should,” she wrote.

Mulligan’s decision raises concerns about issues at a new and expensive detention centre that officially opened in 2014, and housed an average of 873 inmates in 2017, according to the province.

Criminal lawyers have told CBC Toronto that the lockdowns have contributed to shorter sentences for inmates, although there are no firm numbers about how often this happens.

Inmate says he was denied medication

The TSDC was the subject of a lengthy expose in Toronto Life magazine last year, while the province also faces a class action lawsuit over frequent lockdowns in detention facilities, including Toronto South.

The Toronto South Detention Centre was opened in 2014, but has been the subject of criticism in recent years. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

In an affidavit obtained by CBC Toronto, Duncan said he experienced “pain and numbness” following an injury in 1999 and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in his lumbar spine. Duncan also said he was given opioids when other treatments failed.

He said he was denied access to adequate medication while in custody and went through withdrawal in jail.

“Despite having my prescription information from my pharmacy,  they would not provide me with my regularly prescribed medication,” he wrote.

He said he experienced pain and dizziness, and had trouble sleeping after the first doctor he saw at Toronto South “would not prescribe opiates.”  

“My level of pain was unbearable.”

Province won’t discuss staffing

Monte Vieselmeyer, chair of the corrections division for the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, said the South is short-staffed.

“I would say we’re probably now … a good 50 to 100 full-time staff behind where we need to be,” he said.

A spokesperson for the province said in an email that there are “sufficient staff to run the institution in a safe and secure manner and new staff are added on a regular basis.” The spokesperson would not comment on staffing levels in detail, citing unspecified “security reasons.”

However, those staff are facing challenges.

There were 138 assaults by inmates on staff at TSDC in 2017, according to provincial statistics.

Sent to segregation

Duncan, who could not be reached for comment, described his time in custody in an affidavit filed in court.

In February, Duncan fell from his bunk and his head was cut open after he drank contraband alcohol. Reports written by responding staff and obtained by CBC Toronto describe Duncan as belligerent, and said he was using racist and misogynistic language before he was taken to hospital.

In his affidavit, Duncan said that after he was treated in hospital, he was escorted in a wheelchair to a van, where jail staff told him to stand. When he said he couldn’t, Duncan said detention centre staff lifted him by his arms, but he could not raise his legs.

“The officers then threw me forward into the van, head first, then threw my legs over top of me into the van,” Duncan wrote, adding he was left on the floor of the vehicle for the trip back to TSDC.

Upon return, Duncan said he was placed in segregation without a mattress or pillow.

Mulligan cited Duncan’s treatment by staff in explaining her decision to side with the defence and spare him further time in custody. Staff’s poor handling of Duncan’s medical condition, she wrote, combined with lockdowns, “contributed to what can only be described as unduly harsh custodial conditions.”

Igbokwe said human rights extend inside detention facilities, even if “jail is not intended to be a great, wonderful place to be.”

“At the end of the day, we live in a society that respects basic human rights,” she said.”

– Stephen Davis, “Convicted drug dealer faced ‘oppressive’ conditions inside Toronto jail, judge rules.” CBC News, August 23, 2018.

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“This drastic revision of penality’s logic [from punishment to rehabilitation] occurs precisely at the historical moment when the political franchise is being extended to include the mass of the (male) working class within its terms for the very first time…At precisely the same time a whole series of institutions and regulations are put in place which are designed to identify all those legal citizens (or prospective legal citizens) who lack the normative capacity to participate and exercise their new found rights responsibly. Once identified, these deviants are subject to a work of normalization, correction or segregation, which ensures one of two things. Either they become responsible, conforming subjects, whose regularity, political stability and industrious performance deems them capable of entering into institutions of representative democracy; or they are supervised and segregated from the normal social realm in a manner that minimizes (and individualizes) any ‘damage’ they can do.”

– David Garland, Punishment and Welfare: A History of Penal Strategies. Aldershot: Gower, 1985. p. 249

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Another aspect of the rehabilitative ideal was the segregation
of offenders into categories to prevent “contagion”. Some
classification took place in the 1930s with the construction of Collins
Bay in Kingston and Laval at St. Vincent de Paul for younger and less
hardened offenders. The construction of these institutions is
important in the history of sentencing because, for the first titre, the
judges lost a great measure of control over the institution in which
the sentence would be served. It was now up to the Penitentiary Branch
to decide where an inmate sentenced to over two years would go. Prior
to this, the Ontario judge, for example, made the decision between a
provincial institution or Kingston Penitentiary, the only Federal
institution in Ontario. 

There had also been some attempt in earlier years to segregate
some of the more brutal offenders by using the Prison of Isolation at
Kingston. One group in particular that was thought to require
special attention was the habitual criminal. The Gladstone Committee
of 1895 talked of the “large class of habitual criminals not of the
desperate order, who live by robbery and thieving and petty larceny,
who run the risk of comparatively short sentences with comparative
indifference.  The Committee recommended "that this class of
prisoners should be kept as a class apart from others. We think that
they are a most undesirable element in a mixed prison population, and
that they require and deserve special treatment.” Moreover, they said,
“a new form of sentence should be placed at the disposal of the judges
by which these offenders might be segregated for long periods of detention….” Such special legislation was enacted in England in
1908, but not in Canada. The Archambault Report recommended
that similar legislation be passed and in 1947 such legislation
was enacted. A habitual criminal was defined as one
who “has previously, since attaining the age of eighteen years, on at
least three separate and independent occasions been convicted of an
indictable offence for which he was liable to imprisonment for five
years or more and is leading persistently a criminal life”. A person
found to be a habitual criminal would be incarcerated for life, with a
yearly review. The English legislation, it should be noted,
was repealed in 1967. As the Ouimet Report pointed
out, legislation “was enacted in Canada at a time when its
defects were already being recognized in England”. The Ouimet
Committee recommended its abolition. In 1977 the habitual
criminal legislation was repealed and replaced by “Dangerous
Offenders” legislation.

– Martin Friedland, “SENTENCING STRUCTURE IN CANADA: HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES.” Research Reports of the Canadian Sentencing Commission. Toronto: University of Toronto 1988 pp. 44-45  

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Laval Institution

149. The Laval Institution, if its former history as St. Vincent de Paul
Institution is included, has had an eventful history. Several times, it was declared
unfit for use, but was reopened in 1973 as a result of an unexpected increase in the
number of inmates in Quebec. At the time of its reopening, it no longer had any of
its previous facilities or workshops.

150. The disturbance at the British Columbia Penitentiary began at 6:40 p.m.
P.D.T. on September 27, 1976. The disturbance at the Laval Institution commenced
just over two hours earlier at 7:25 p.m. E.D.T. on the same day.

151. The Laval riot followed some nine months of unrest at that institution,
but in this case there was no prominent history of disaffection between the
administration and the P.S.A.C. local nor problems of internal communication.
There was, however, dissatisfaction by the inmates.

152. The period of disturbance began on January 7, 1976, when 158 inmates
refused to participate in the normal daily activities and remained in their cells. At
the same time, the Inmate Committee submitted grievances in some 16 areas. The
inmates remained in their cells without working for a month. During this time the
grievances were negotiated to the apparent satisfaction of both sides and on
February 6, institutional routine had returned to normal. However, a hostake-taking
incident on May 17 by two inmates of Cell Block 1 revealed that since the strike a
number of events had brought about an unstable atmosphere within the institution.
Hostage negotiations were successful and the incident was over in 14 hours.

153. On August 16 some prisoners in Cell Block 1 (a segregation area)
demolished their cells, throwing everything (pieces of porcelain, trays, etc.) into the
range. This was cleaned up by the staff, but the throwing was repeated on the
following day, and at that time, to prevent the officers from cleaning it up, pieces of
debris, excrement, and urine were thrown on them. Since the prisoners refused to
clean their cells, on August 18 seven of the worst offenders were transferred to Wing
B-14, which was opened to receive them.

154. However, a verbal promise had been made by the Administration following
the inmates’ strike in January not to re-open B -14, and inmates gave the Director
an ultimatum “either close B-14 in accordance with the promise or there will be
trouble”. On August 19, a new Inmate Committee was elected, met the Director,
and successfully negotiated the return of the seven inmates from B-14 to the regular
segregation block on the promise of good conduct.

155. At 11 p.m. on September 5, 226 inmates refused to return to their cells,
until they received assurances that their grievances would be heard two days later.
On September 11, there was again a refusal to re-enter the cells.

156. On the nights of September 21 and 22, prisoners returned to their cells
but refused to close the cell doors. The guards proceeded down the rows involved and
closed the cell doors. On September 24 at 11 p.m. some inmates again refused to
enter their cells. The security door at the end of each row was locked, and the
prisoners were then free to roam at will within their respective ranges. This time the
Inmate Committee informed the Director that, because of their grievances, the
inmate population would not re-enter their cells. The situation remained relatively
stable over the weekend, and excellent written communications were maintained
between the Inmate Committee and the administration. Eighteen documents were
exchanged on Saturday, seven on Sunday, and ten on Monday.

157. The administration had originally made the decision not to take any
action before Monday. On Monday afternoon it was agreed by the Director and the
Commissioner of Penitentiaries that, rather than use force immediately, the Commissioner
would meet with the Inmate Committee on Thursday. This information
was relayed to the Committee. The Committee undertook to conduct a vote of the
inmates on the matter, and said that the results would be made known to the
administration no later than 7:30. At 7:25 p.m., under what they considered to be
provocation from the presence of the anti-riot squad around the dome, the inmates
sacked their cells, burning and breaking everything accessible. However, there is
some evidence that this was a concerted and timed action on their part.

158. The fires made it necessary for the inmates to evacuate the cell blocks.
As they exited, prisoners were searched, stripped of unnecessary items, and directed
to the exercise yard, where they remained in the yard throughout the night, and
during this time burned everything combustible in the yard, as well as throwing
stones and causing other minor damage.

159. The only injuries sustained during the disturbance were suffered by five
inmates. Three of these were of a minor nature, but two inmates were either pushed
or fell from the balconies during the evacuation and required hospitalization.

160. The Institution received assistance from the R.C.M. Police, the Quebec
Provincial Police, the Canadian Armed Forces, the Laval Fire Department and the
Laval Police Department. Subsequently, by September 30 all inmates had been
moved from the yard-110 were transferred to the Correctional Development
Centre, to Archambault Institution, and the remainder were relocated within the
Institution. Damage was estimated at $700,000.

161. An administration estimate is that of the 53 demands made by the
inmates up to July, 1976, 33 had been accepted by the administration, 5 were under
consideration, and only 15 had been refused. Whether or not this estimate is
accurate in its numbers, the inmates believed that conditions remained bad. However,
there was excellent communication between the administration and the Inmate Committee even during the times of stress. The Inmate Committee perhaps intended
the protest to remain peaceful. If so, it lost control. But it is also a plausible
hypothesis that the disturbance resulted from careful planning rather than from
random anger.

162. In retrospect it is clear that the temporizing with the problem which
marked the administration’s conduct from at least September 24 was most unwarranted.
We believe that a disturbance has already started when inmates are able to
roam freely through their ranges without control, and that this condition should not
have been allowed to continue for three days for any reason.

163. Weakness on the part of the system will always be exploited by those in
prison, just as they saw fit to exploit such weaknesses when they were at large in
society. Fairness and decency do not imply weakness. The protection of the public,
including custodial personnel and more placid inmates, demands that order be
maintained within our penitentiaries at all times. This must be a first commandment
for the Penitentiary Service. Regrettably, that commandment was seriously breached
in this case. 

–  Mark MacGuigan, Chairman, Report to Parliament of The Sub-Committee on the Penitentiary System in Canada & Standing Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs. Second Session of the Thirtieth Parliament, 1976-77. pp. 28-30.

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“Have Experts See Patients,” Toronto Globe. February 20, 1919. Page 07.

And Decide What Institution Best for Them to Live In


Dr. C. P. Johns, physician at the Jail Farm, testifying before Mr. Justice Hodgins’ Commission inquiring into the extent of feeble-mindedness in Ontario, at the Parliament Buildings yesterday, suggested that there should be a clearing house in Toronto for mental defectives, where experts could examine patients and decide as to the institutions in which they should be placed. he advocated sending them to farm colonies for treatment, but not too many to one place. Dr. Johns said that from 35 to 40 per cent of the 289 inmates at the Jail Farm were subnormal mentality. The problem of disposing of these people was a difficult one. He complained of the difficulty in getting into Government institutions on account of delay, referring particularly to the Orillia Hospital.

Canon Tucker of London said he believed there were between 40,000 and 50,000 feeble-minded persons in Canada. The Church of England in Canada was organized for social service work, and it felt it owed a Duty to the State in respect to the health, morals and general welfare of the people. He promised the whole-hearted support of the Anglican Church to the Government in carrying out any well-developed scheme. ‘In the course of one or two generations feeble-mindedness could be eliminated altogether from our social life, if these people were segregated and treated in a kindly way and useful employment found for them,’ Canon Tucker said. ‘There should be a more thorough examination of immigrants before sailing for Canada.’

Dr. Lillan Langstaff, Superintendent of the Women’s Industrial Farm, said that 40 per cent of the inmates there were mentally defective. Classification she suggested as a solution, as moral degenerates taught vice to the ordinary feeble-minded person.

Mr. J. J. Kelso, Superintendent of Neglected Children and Inspector of Industrial School, recommended that local homes should be provided, the Government to undertake the capital expenditure and the municipalities and benevolent people to provide for the upkeep, with the assistance of women’s organizations.

The inquiry will be continued this morning, when Dr. Helen MacMurchy will testify.

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the era before antibiotics, contracting tuberculosis was devastating.
Victims often
spent many months in a sanatorium suffering
through long recoveries or painful deaths.
spite of their dire condition, the

Department of Soldiers’ Civil Re-Establishment

arranged a series of
vocational training workshops for tuberculous veterans. The
goal was to give them
“the physical and mental stimulation of occupational therapy and to
make ‘taking the cure’ [i.e.,
treatment] easier, while providing limited industrial re-education.”
results were encouraging. Instances of drunkenness and
insubordination were nearly eliminated, while treatment completion
rates rose
from sixty-six to nearly one hundred percent.

this transitional period several high-profile
visited Speedwell. The
Prince of Wales stopped by on 21 October 1919 during his visit to
Guelph where, it was reported, he toured the whole hospital and shook
hands wit nearly all of the veterans. In
February of the following year, General Sir Arthur Currie traveled
from Ottawa with the Honourable Hugh Guthrie, Minister of Militia and
Guelph Member of Parliament, to make a “visit of inspection” to
Speedwell Hospital.
is unclear if representatives from the Red Cross met with Guthrie
during this visit, but the president of the Guelph branch, Edith
Crowe, contacted Guthrie’s office
the following month. Crowe wanted Guthrie to understand that
conditions at Speedwell were deteriorating daily, and the hospital
presented to visiting dignitaries did not represent patients’ daily

venture to say that we women [of the Red Cross Society] know more of
the seething discontent out there than any official
in the place. Here is one of dozens of complaints. In the bitterest
of the cold weather an order came through from Ottawa that all heat
was to be turned off in the T.B. Wards. Do you know that the water
froze in the stone hot water bottles, and the bottles burst in their
beds, leaving ice at the men’s feet? Army blankets are heavy but
there is not much warmth in them, and these poor fellows have
much from this cold this winter. I am not sure how far your
jurisdiction extends, but I know that what you can do will be done.

complaint was immediately forwarded to Lougheed’s office, but there
was no time to dispatch the DSCR’s medical director to investigate.
In addition to
notifying officials
in Ottawa, Crowe alerted her superior. The Chairman of
the Canadian Red Cross Society, Lieutenant-Colonel Noel G.L.
Marshall, wrote Lougheed that same day regarding numerous complaints,
some from “very direct sources,” received by the Red Cross about
Speedwell Hospital. The
chairman wanted to assure Lougheed that, despite
for the Red Cross to intervene, there would be no meddling in
Speedwell’s affairs
beyond his organization’s unconditional assistance.

situation deteriorated further a few weeks later when Speedwell’s
nursing staff
walked off the job. The
medical director received an urgent letter from Speedwell’s medical
superintendent on 12 May 1920 regarding a bitter dispute between the
dietitians and nursing staff
the preparation and delivery of special dietary meals to the

practice within DSCR hospitals placed all medical staff (including nurses and dietitians) under the authority of an in-house
Medical Superintendent. The
superintendent reported to a regional Unit Medical Director who, in
turn, reported to the Director of Medical Services in Ottawa.
Speedwell was different;
the dietitians took orders directly from Assistant Director Black.

dietitians claimed their duty was limited to preparing special
dietary meals and that responsibility for delivering those meals to
the patient’s bedside rested with the nurses. The
nurses argued their time was better spent on the ward with their
patients rather than in the kitchen with their meals. “We realized
it was not our work,” said Miss A. Hanlan, one of the nurses on
strike, “[t]he dietitians are supposed to be there serving the
trays, but it is bad enough for the nurses to
have to serve the trays without the dietitians standing by watching
nurses told the Toronto
Evening Telegram
Speedwell’s chief dietitian, Miss Mabel Beatty, was Black’s
and that Beatty had usurped control from Speedwell’s head nurse,
Miss Maud Wald, with the support of Black’s administration.

nurses were justifiably concerned. A patient in another DSCR hospital
who had underwent surgery nearly died when he ingested apple pie
shortly afterwards,
mistakenly delivered by an orderly while the attendant nurse was in
the diet kitchen.
Black objected to the nurses’ demands, arguing that four assistant
dietitians would need to be hired for each of Speedwell’s special
diet kitchens, which the hospital could not afford.
issue went to the Director of
Medical Services, Colonel E.G. Davis, who confirmed
the nurses were responsible for ensuring “her patient receives the
proper diet, one which has been prescribed for him; also to supervise
the distribution of trays by the Orderlies on duty in her ward but
the actual preparation of foods, the placing of food on trays in the
diet kitchen is certainly not part of her duty.”
medical director estimated
that delivering meals to patients could be done by kitchen maids
under the supervision of Speedwell’s existing dietitian

indicate that the deeper issue at Speedwell was its system of dual
administrative control shared between civilians and military-medical
personnel within the same hospital. Colonel Davis acknowledged this
in his report to the deputy minister: “the
nurses and medical men [at Speedwell], rightly or wrongly, resent the
fact of having a layman in charge of medical arrangements resulting
in lack of co-operation and constant bickering.”
was originally granted vast authority in 1917 as Director of
Industries in order to streamline vocational training with medical
treatment. After
Speedwell’s transition to long-term convalescence care, however,
Black’s decisions were increasingly viewed by not only veterans but
also medical staff as arbitrary, unqualified,
and controversial.

least two tuberculous patients died
as the nurses’ strike wore on. Thomas Quin,
who served as a sapper with the Black Watch in France, came to Canada after
the war to carry out his convalescence closer to his mother, who
resided in Toronto. Quin
passed away on 29 June 1920 at the age of nineteen.
patient named McNamara had to plaster newspaper sheets across the
seeping limestone walls
of his cell in an effort
to “keep the damp off him.” McNamara also died during the strike.
following week, with the support of the Great War Veterans
Association, the nurses reported the scandal to the press. Black
announced his resignation the same day. He accepted an offer
to manage the H.H. Robertson Company
of Sarnia, manufacturers of construction materials, but insisted his
resignation had “nothing whatever” to do with the dismissal of
eighteen nurses from
his staff.
E.G. Shannon, an officer
who served overseas with the 50th
Battalion, was Black’s successor. Shannon’s appointment suggests
that DSCR officials
were beginning to respond to veterans’ objections to civilian

Evening Telegram
a series of articles on the scandalous state of affairs
at Speedwell based on the testimony of nurses and patients. There
were reports of rusty hypodermic needles being sterilized in tin cans
due to shortages of medical supplies. Others condemned the hospital’s
continued use of so-called “private wards” which were
half-converted prison cells.
Barden, a patient of Speedwell’s tuberculosis ward for the past
fourteen months, recounted how a group of patients had approached the
medical superintendent, Dr. G.N. Urie, requesting the windows be
cleaned, which the Telegram
as “filthy
and scarcely up to the standard expected in a military hospital.”
doctor allegedly refused the patients’ request because the cost of
window washing, around $800, was considered too high. On another
occasion, Dr. Urie was presented with a petition signed by 150
patients requested conditions improve immediately at Speedwell. The
petition was allegedly torn up and the petitioner kicked out of Dr.
Urie’s office.
medical superintendent disputed all charges. Dr. Urie’s actions
were consistent, however, with a hospital administration that was
constrained by inadequate funding but also indifferent
to veterans’

Ontario government released its own report in August. The
bombshell report, commissioned
by Major G.L. Drew, Vocational Officer
for the Provincial Secretary’s Department, led Drew to conclude the
situation at Speedwell “came far short of the service that I
considered patients should receive at the hands of the Department.”
that his repeated allegations to DSCR officials
had been ignored, Drew had ordered J.J. Bayliss, from the Mountain
Sanatorium in Hamilton, to visit Guelph and investigate the
attach this
report,” Drew told the DSCR, “[t]he results are far from
satisfactory to say the least.” In his cover letter, dated 2 August
1920, Bayliss declared that “[…] making a report on Speedwell
Hospital was about the most difficult
thing I ever had to do.”

to Drew:

evils of this place are so obvious, that to mention some of them
would only cast a reflection
on certain men who are doing their best, and might possibly let out
those men who deserve blame. There is no doubt whatever, that some men
at Speedwell have done their best in every way for the patients, nor
is there any doubt, that others fell far short of their best, and
knowingly allowed a situation to develop that has caused a great deal
of anxiety and trouble for the Department.

report is remarkable for its historical interrogation of the
decisions that had been made during the uncertainty of wartime. “the
root of the trouble is much deeper than any question of
administration,” Bayliss concluded.
report did not discuss the nurses’ strike in great detail, nor did
it criticize the staff.

so ignored the deeper issue rooted in the initial transference of the
Ontario Reformatory to the Military Hospital Commission in 1917. Bayliss recalled the remarks
of a patient at Mountain Sanatorium who, when told of his impending
transfer to Speedwell, had responded that “[t]he place is a prison,
and you can’t change it. Surely we deserve something
better than a jail.”
admitted he thought the patient was exaggerating. What he discovered
was Speedwell had never fully transitioned into a proper veterans’
hospital after 1917, with many necessary improvements never materializing.

Speedwell was initially supported by many of the leading physicians
across Canada, “the spirit of their recommendations seems to have
been almost ignored.”
required more than fresh paint and curtains covering Speedwell’s
iron bars to make the former prison suitable for convalescent care.
By failing to undertake necessary improvements, Speedwell Hospital,
in the eyes of the superintendent of Mountain Sanatorium, remained a

persistence of a prison-like atmosphere had significant
psychological implications
for the patients at Speedwell. During previous outbreaks of tuberculosis in Canada, it was not unusual for the public to go
through fits of phthisiphobia:
fear of tuberculosis and its sufferers.
were made for the establishment of so-called “prison colonies” to
concentrate tuberculous patients during treatment. “[I]n such a
colony,” claimed Bayliss, “the discipline, while not as strict as
that of an ordinary prison, would still be strict enough to enforce
obedience on the part of a patient for the protection of the public
at large […] Speedwell fitted
the idea exactly.”
was certain the veterans bitterly resented being “imprisoned” due
to an illness contracted while fighting

former prison cells, known a private wards, were tolerable during
summer months but insufferable
during the winter. “The
condition of a patient in a small cell with solid stone walls at such
a time can be more easily imagined than described,”
Bayliss reported, “especially if the window and door are closed for
the sake of comfort.” Making matters worse, a few prison cells in
its underground tunnel system were maintained for veterans who “acted
up a little.”
concluded that Speedwell “[lacked] the many little things for the
patients’ comfort which are to be found in the modern Sanatorium
and without which treatment would become unbearable.”
his opinion the tubercular patients were suffering.
the time Bayliss’ report reached the desk of the DSCR’s deputy
minister on 21 August 1920, the Tuberculous Board of Consultants was
concluding its own investigation into Speedwell.

fall of 1920 marked the denouement for Speedwell Hospital. Colonel
Davis informed the Unit Medical Director in late August that all
tuberculous patients were to be removed from Speedwell and dispersed
to other sanatoria within the DSCR.
28 September, The
that Speedwell would be closed entirely.
next day, by Order-in-Council #P.C. 2338, the DSCR was ordered to
vacate the hospital and return the former Ontario Reformatory back to
the province as quickly as possible.
were evacuated completely by 15 November 1920 and most of the
administration was transferred to the new DSCR hospital in London.
remaining employees were laid off at the end of year.
24 January 1921, after
nearly five
years, the Province of Ontario resumed complete control of the
Ontario Reformatory at Guelph. During that five-year
period, Speedwell’s administration was the subject of multiple
investigations, conducted by a range of organizations, including the
Provincial Secretary’s Office
of Ontario,
Chief Accountant of the DSCR,
Board of Tuberculosis Consultants, the Toronto
Evening Telegram,
Canadian Red Cross,
the Department of Justice.

was the ignominious end to the noble
experiment in soldiers’ civil re-establishment that was Speedwell
Hospital. What followed was a thorny and prolonged dispute between
Ontario and the DSCR that dragged on for a decade.
A Board
of Adjustment to negotiate Speedwell’s return was convened in
November 1920, when a detailed inventory of alterations and
installations made to the hospital by the DSCR was submitted. It
revealed that, while the nurses’ quarters remained unchanged since
1917, the superintendent’s residence where George Black lived now
boasted a three-story extension, including a garage at ground level
and sun rooms on the second and third floors.
initial progress toward a settlement, the Board was unable to reach
an agreement. After
two years the dispute was referred to the Department of Justice.
party made six-figure
claims against the other for unpaid expenses and resolution was
further delayed. On 29 January 1931, eleven years after
Speedwell’s return to the province, the DSCR’s long-serving
Assistant Deputy Minister, Ernest Scammell, now Secretary of the
Department of Pensions and National Health, met with the provincial
secretary in Toronto, where the dispute was finally

greatest strengths as an institution— its farms, industries, and
work shops—were little unrealized by a cost-conscious
bureaucracy lacking the will to utilize them. The
inmates who preceded the veterans at Speedwell received vocational
training in an array of trades while building the prison and later
working in its various industries. These
industries, however, were obliged by the federal-provincial
agreement of 1917 to remain efficient
and productive in order to meet
continuing needs of the province’s customers. This
obligation eventually led administrators to return Speedwell’s
industries to provincial control, or
substitute vocational trainees for paid labourers, essentially
ruining Speedwell’s prospect of becoming Canada’s “chief
educational centre” in the soldier re-establishment program. The
fact that provincial demands ultimately prevailed is perhaps
unsurprising considering many of the MHC’s original decision-makers
had close ties to the Provincial Secretary’s Department. In the
end, inmates of the Ontario Reformatory received better vocational
than Canadian veterans.”

– Brook Durham, “The place is a prison, and you can’t change it”: Rehabilitation, Retraining, and Soldiers’ Re-Establishment at Speedwell Military Hospital, Guelph, 1911-1921.” Ontario History, 109(2), fall 2017. pp. 204-211.

Photo is: “Speedwell [Hospital] Convalescent Ward, [Department of Soldiers Civil Re-Establishment, c. 1918].” Credit: Peake & Whittingham / Library and Archives Canada / PA-068096.

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“Notions of hierarchy ordered views
of what had seemed the anarchy of American racial and class diversity. They
were crucial, as well, in justifying the seemingly contradictory ways reformers
approached the problems of the poor. Some at the top of the hierarchy might be
saved. The degenerate were to be eliminated. Historians have understood
segregation simply as the dividing lines of blackness and whiteness, as
something rooted in Southern Jim Crow culture. The move toward Jim Crow around
the turn of the century occurred alongside another contemporary campaign for
‘segregation’: the isolation of the degenerate and their eventual extinction through
the regulation of reproduction Segregation, most broadly, in
turn-of-the-last-century America was obviously not about separate but equal,
but nor was it purely about separation.
Like observers of African Americans who imagined their eventual extinction,
those who advocated the segregation of tramps, the feebleminded, and
prostitutes aimed at their elimination, biological selection, and extinction. As
Franklin Giddings would demand: ‘Give them the fat of the land, build them
separate cottages…but put a hedge and a ditch around their garden and prevent
them mingling with untainted children and youth.’

The idea of segregation was applied
to a range of degenerates, from tramps to prostitutes to the feebleminded to
paupers. The segregation of delinquent women has received the most historical
attention. Ruth Alexander, for example, has described the incarceration of
adolescent women in two New York State reformatories. The experience of these
women, while providing a glimpse of the confrontation of young working-class
women with changing sexual mores, also hints at the way segregation potentially
replaced regulation as the means to combat female degradation and degeneracy.
Thus, the Committee of Fifteen’s report criticized simple regulation. It argued
that regulation only perpetuated the existence of prostitution in tenement
houses and poor neighbourhoods.  Instead,
the committee recommended the formation of a ‘morals police’ charged with
formal investigation – indeed, the ‘surveillance’ – of prostitution. Along with
a Chicago vice commission, the committee sought to arrest degeneration by
separating the ‘semi-delinquent from delinquent girls’ and by creating ‘an
industrial home’ that would segregate confirmed prostitutes.

Concurrently, reformers sought to
segregate tramps. They advocated the creation of a model municipal lodging
houses that would provide an alternative to city jails or to the private
lodging houses castigated by Sanborn. Such model lodging houses, in addition to
providing a sober environment, food, and a bath, would aid in  the very process of classification. Inmates
would be subjected to a ‘work-test’; those capable of work would be forced to
labor. Advocates also described the municipal lodging house as a substitute for
harmful almsgiving. Instead of loose change, a beggar might be presented with a
ticket for a night at the municipal lodging house. Chicago’s Municipal Lodgin
House created a ticket that the well-meaning could give to a passing tramp.
Indeed, the text of the ticket, explaining the work of the house and its labor
test, was aimed primarily at ‘citizens and housewives of Chicago,’ not at
tramps. The ticket worked not only to segregate the tramp but also to replace,
reform, and improve the practice of charity.

Massive institutions, labeled
‘colonies’ and removed from cities, represented the most ambitious plans for
the segregation of tramps, as well as the feebleminded. ‘Colonies’ for tramps
and the feebleminded took their inspiration not from the nineteenth-century poorhouse
(which they resembled in general form, but not in intent) but from European
examples. American observers admired European experiments in segregation, such
as Mexplas, a Belgian colony for the ‘waste of humanity’ that included the
feebleminded and vagabonds. Rice argued that colonies might not only separate
tramps from those they might contaminate and dissuade others from vagrancy but
they also improved the efficacy of philanthropy. With the colony, charitable
aid could be directed toward those who might actually climb the class
hierarchy. By the turn of the century, colonies became an essential part of the
American campaign for social reform and settlement work. For Kelly and tramp
expert Orlando Lewis, colonies were key to remaking reform along scientific
lines. With the tramp removed, there was less temptation for what Kelly
denigrated as ‘indiscriminate almsgiving and such…charities as shelters, soup
kitchens, etc.’ Lewis, likewise, denigrated the mere imprisonment of the tramp.
Once released from prison, the tramp remained at large and became ‘a teacher of
parasitism.’ In the compulsory colony, vagrants could be put to work producing
their own food, while being segregated from the rest of the population.

At the same moment that Kelly and
Lewis advocated the creation of tramp colonies, leading reformers also clamored
for the construction of colonies to segregate the feebleminded, the label for a
newly defined category of congenital mental degenerates. The segregation of the
feebleminded, argued the Committee on Colonies for and Segregation of Defectives,
would relieve future generations of the burden of their degeneracy. Yet their
segregation, the committee said, was simply part of a movement for the
segregation of all degenerates, including ‘prostitutes, tramps and…many
habitual paupers.’ The colony housed classes of degenerates ‘who, if they
mingled with the world at large, would be useless or mischievous.’

The term ‘colony’ was affixed with
yet another meaning, alongside its imperial and immigration contexts: the idea
of removal. Calls for the construction of colonies along European models echoed
in reform and even socialist circles. It was, for example, central to efforts
to remake New York’s system of philanthropy. In 1911, with great support from
reformers and social workers, the New York legislature approved a bill to fund
the construction of a tramp colony. Reformers boasted that able-bodied tramps
could be forced to work to grow their own food. They would meanwhile be removed
from local jails and city streets.

Segregation was particularly
central to reform. Armed with the evidence gathered from slum exploration,
reformers set out by the early 1900s to reform the proletarian environment.
Naturally, they clamored for better housing and safe streets; they also sought
the elimination of degeneracy. In 1901, the South End House, Boston’s leading
settlement house, proudly reported the eviction of a drunk tramp from it’s men
reading room. The settlement, it declared, was not ‘a resort of bums.’ The
settlement’s leaders even saluted the refurbishment of the reading room with
new paint and open windows as part of a process of closing the city’s
working-class colonies to tramps. Something as simple as new paint might become
part of a larger, if brutal, process of segregating and eliminating the
degenerate: ‘Thus, death itself is the final factor in this process of social
regeneration. The morally fit survive, and the morally unfit drop away.’
‘Social degeneracy,’ the House declared,’ demanded isolation. The degenerate
was a ‘carrier’ whose presence could pass on their affliction to the desperate
poor. As a result, the House urged the creation of lodging houses and colonies
to put Boston on the ‘tramp’s black list.’ Social reformers, the inheritors of the
survey and slum exploration tradition, were dedicated to the positive
amelioration of the social environment as well as to the segregation and
extinction of degenerates. As the South End House reported, ‘From the beginning
of its career, the South End House strongly urged and earnestly striven for the
gradual segregation from the community of its degenerate and degraded types.’

Social Darwinists such as William Graham
Sumner had long been suspicious of reform as charity that led to the survival
of the unfit. Reformers were similarly concerned about the biological effects
of their work. To balance the preservation of those who might otherwise have
been eliminated in the social struggle, reform depended on a program of
segregation. ‘Charity…must not itself multiply the occassion for its
exercise,’ editorialized the Survey journal in 1909. But, in its
inherent contradictions, the balance between segregation and amelioration was
impossible to achieve. As the new century wore on, definitions of degeneracy expanded
and programs of elimination and segregation necessarily proliferated. As plans
for segregation and elimination broadened in their viciousness to include
sterilization and immigration restriction, social reformers would find
themselves questioning their ability to combine uplift with extinction. As
early as 1913, one settlement worker decried the expanding definition of
degeneracy. ‘Care must be taken to guard the border line between the fit and
unfit,’ she warned. When should reformers ‘halt’ the elimination of those ‘who
carry the germs of degeneracy?’

– Daniel E. Bender, American Abyss: Savagery and Civilization in the Age of Industry. New York: Cornell University Press, 2013. pp. 157-60.

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“Probe of Penal System Requested for Quebec,” Montreal Gazette. August 21, 1952. Page 01. 

“The John Howard Society yesterday requested the Quebec Government to ‘appoint a special commission to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation’ into the causes of the two riots at Bordeaux jail.

In a letter to Premier Duplessis, the society asked that the commission also ‘review the entire penal system of the province and bring in such recommendations as it may see fit.’

The society said that in 1946 Saskatchewan was concerned with its high rate of crime and recidivism, and appointed a commission to investigate its penal system.

‘The report brought in by this commission might well be a model for a similar commission in this province,’ the letter said.

Quoting from the Saskatchewan report, the society declared:

“So far as criminals are concerned, the only way for society to protect itself is to devise adequate measures of reformation. The vast majority of those committed to penal institutions will return to society, and unless treatment and re-education measures have been effective, they will continue to commit further offences against property and persons.

‘Society’s self-interest is the rehabilitation of prisoners coincides, therefore, with the Christian principle of the dignity and worth of every human being and the Christian doctrines of love, charity and mercy.

‘While it is true that society must have a place for the safe-keeping of those who are dangerous to itself, the essential function of prisons is one of treatment and re-education.’

Referring to Mr. Duplessis’ statement that ‘it is evident that the first duty of the government is to look after the welfare and progress of honest people instead of the comfort of criminals,’ the society said:

‘We respectfully submit that intelligent and scientific treatment of those who have broken the law, making full use of modern penological knowledge is one of the best ways in which the government can safeguard the welfare and progress of honest people.’

‘All of us who share your pride in the achievements of this great province of ours hope to see it second to none in the operation of an enlightened penal system, and we trust therefore our request for a commission will receive your sympathetic consideration.’

The society said it ‘fully concurred’ with Mr. Duplessis’ statement that ‘problems raised by jail disturbances…must be considered not in the spirit of party partisanship but in the light of the higher interests of the province and its people.’”

“Ontario Plans 250-man Jail ‘Without Frills,’” Montreal Gazette. August 21, 1952. Page 01.

“A $1,500,000 prison with ‘no frills’ will be built at Millbrook, a quiet community about 12 miles southeast of Peterborough, Reform Institutions Minister Foote announced today.

The institution should be ready to accept a ‘small core’ of desperate short-term prisoners from the provincial reformatories at Guelph and Burwash.  It will accommodate 250 prisoners.

The decision followed a riot at Guelph last month when extensive damage was done.  Since then, a number of inmates have escaped.  Several persons were punished in connection with the riot.

Mr. Foote said there was ‘no vindictiveness’ in opening the prison which will have ‘no recreation facilities and no frills.’

‘We have had the conclusion forced on us that certain people will not react to the training program we have at Guelph and Burwash and who make it impossible for us to operate it for the others.’

He estimated that about 10 per cent of present inmates at the reformatories are of the tough-man type that needs to be sent to the new prison.

Prisoners would be given a chance to make good in one of the reformatories before being sent to the new prison.

‘We’re not trying to be brutal.  We do not mean that no effort will be made to understand the prisoners.  There will be no larking in modern treatment but there will be strict discipline.’

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“Reforms Planned for Bordeaux, Premier Duplessis Announces; Public Help Premier’s Request,” Montreal Gazette. August 9, 1952. Page 01.

“Reforms will be made at Montreal’s Bordeaux jail, scene of two riots in the last three months, Premier Duplessis indicated today.

Mr. Duplessis, who deplored ‘wide’ newspaper publicity given last Friday’s demonstration at the sprawling jail, said separation of hardened criminals from first offenders is one ‘necessary reform.’

Damage was described by Mr. Duplessis as ‘very considerable’ but he did not elaborate although as attorney-general, he has over-all direction of Quebec’s jails.

He spoke at length of the Government’s views on the disturbance at his regular press conference today.

Prisoners were reported to have rioted over the poor quality of food, on which Mr. Duplessis did not comment.

He said his government considered the welfare of honest people more important than ‘the comfort of criminals.’

He said newspaper reports of the riot was the kind of thing that ‘might constitute an encouragement for the rebellious criminal.’

An investigation to determine the causes of the riots and the best methods to avoid repetition is nearly finished, he said, adding that ‘the co-operation of all who can contribute something to re-establishment and maintenance of order’ was needed.

‘We want to make all the most appropriate reforms gradually, a spirit of justice and common sense, but without forgetting that our first duty is to ensure the welfare of honest people,’ he said.

Jail riots stem from an epidemic of disorders ‘throughout the world, but especially in the United States and Canada,’ Mr. Duplessis said.

‘The causes were numerous,’ and ‘in some measure are beyond the power of governments.’ He did not elaborate on this statement.

Not a Hotel
Bordeaux is not and cannot be a fashionable hotel,’ he said. ‘It is not a place where honest people hold meetings.’

‘It is certainly not by giving wide publicity to evil and the evil-doer that one can succeed in doing good. Some newspapers even exaggerated and that is regrettable, not so much as concerns government, but insofar as it concerns public interest and respect for order.

‘Many criminals seek publicity and take glory in it.  It seems to us that public interest and respect for order are vitally concerned in this matter and that wide publicity is not the kind of thing that safeguards them.’

‘We have made many helpful reforms at Bordeaux and we will continue…there are inveterate and incurable criminals in our jails and penitentiaries, and there are others who can be cured.’

Segregation Needed
‘The proximity of inveterate repeaters with those who are not is a situation that can stand improvement…’

‘It is evident that the first duty of the Government is to look after the welfare and progress of honest people instead of the comfort of the criminals.’

Problems raised by jail disturbances ‘affect deeply the welfare of the province in general,’ Mr. Duplessis said.

‘It seems to me they must be considered, not in the spirit of party partisanship but in the light of the higher interests of the province and its people,’ he said.

“Prisoners All Back In Jail,” Montreal Gazette. August 9, 1952. Page 01.

“The last prisoners removed from Bordeaux Jail for safekeeping during last week’s rioting were returned to death-watch cells in the northend prison yesterday.

Transfer of the inmates, revealed by a provincial police official at Montreal headquarters, meant that conditions are back at pre-riot normal in the jail.

Returned to the cells under the five main cell-blocks were five men awaiting execution, five others awaiting trial for murder and one awaiting deportation.

‘These men, while they did not take part in the riot, can be classed as dangerous,’ police said.

‘During Friday’s riot, we removed them from the death-watch cells when water from firemen’s hoses began to flood the cells.’

Another indication that everything was quiet at Bordeaux came when Provincial Police advised all Quebec prisons that a state of emergency brought about by the wild smashing spree by 700 convicts a week ago had ended. 

When the prisoners went on their rampage, police headquarters instructed all prisons to stand by to receive additional prisoners in case the Montreal jail was wrecked and a wholesale transfer was necessary.

The rioters won control of the jail at one time but tear gas forced most of them back into the wrecked cell-blocks.”

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“An Ontario prison guard could face punitive measures and potential dismissal for blowing the whistle on the handling of an inmate placed in solitary confinement.

In a series of tweets posted in May, Chris Jackel, a long-time correctional officer of the Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene, Ont., alleged that management had been negligent in the handling of an inmate in segregation — akin to solitary confinement — who was said to be left for eight days “in urine/feces soaked cell” and “eating his own feces.”

The tweets were directed to the Ontario Ombudsman, a watchdog that oversees the provincial government; the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services; and the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, which represents the province’s prison guards.

The tweets contain graphic photos of the inmate’s feces and blood spread on the window and bed of the cell. He also claims managerial staff, recently hired to manage the use of segregation, would ask other employees for direction on what to do to help the inmate. Jackel claimed they were responded to by “shrugs” and “‘don’t know’ answers.”

Evidently, his tweets caught the attention of the government, which has been under fire for conditions inside jails, including overcrowding and the use of solitary confinement.

On Monday, Jackel tweeted a letter he received the week prior, calling him to a disciplinary meeting to discuss “your inappropriate use of social media.”

“These are confidential human resources matters between the employer and the employee,” the ministry wrote to VICE News. “It would not be appropriate to discuss the specific details publicly.”

The letter to Jackel alleges that his tweets infringed upon multiple employee policies, including the Ontario Public Services’ guidelines on social media.”

– Sarah Krichel, “A prison guard blew the whistle on jail conditions in Canada, now he could face punishment,” VICE Canada. July 26, 2017.

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“Thirteen Convicts Are On The Loose; One Captured,” Kingston Whig-Standard. July 11, 1972. Front page.

First reporting on the then notorious, now forgotten, except for a damned Tragically Hip song, mass escape from the recently opened, utterly ramshackle for a high security, and equally notorious Millhaven Institution near Kingston, Ontario. 

Millhaven in the 1970s sounded like a bad place to be: casual, consistent brutality from custodial officers, who repeatedly, through their union, called the inmates ‘animals’ who had to be isolated even further from society; pervasive racism against black and First Nations prisoners; a focus on electronic surveillance and tear gas that presaged the modern correctional system while systematically isolating inmates from staff; bloody attacks by prisoners against staff and their fellow inmates; frequent escapes, including a few where the escapee was shot dead – exacerbated by the brutal conditions and made possible because of poor, unfinished security; ‘mysterious’ deaths in segregation, including the 1975 death of Eddie Nalon that led to Prisoner’s Justice Day; dogs being sicced on prisoners; hostage takings; hunger strikes and disturbances. MPs from the NDP and prisoner’s aid groups were barred from an inspection tour in 1973, while a Grand Jury (made up of local rural folk) convened to investigate an inmate suicide called the prison a ‘motel.’ The guards who beat newly arrived inmates in 1971 were also exonerated by a local jury inquiry. The staff were unprepared for its opening in 1971, and the prison was over capacity, under equipped, far from the public eye – a maelstrom regularly criticized by U of T prof J. D. Morton (who was one of five who helped end the 1971 riot at Kingston Pen).  The crisis of imprisonment in the 1970s in a single prison.

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