Black-white race riot erupts at federal pen in Kingston

Prison staff reported racial tension among inmates at a penitentiary in Ontario the day before a mini riot that sent eight prisoners to hospital, Cancrime learned. One prisoner from medium-security Joyceville Institution suffered serious injuries and was in intensive care Sunday evening, according to the Correctional Service of Canada. Corrections could not explain what caused the incident, which it labeled a “major disturbance.”

“We really don’t know at this point,” said Lorrie Oddie, an assistant warden at Joyceville, which is located about 20 kilometres north of downtown Kingston in a rural area. “It’s really too early to tell what caused it.” (CSC release)

Oddie said she could not comment on the suggestion that it was a black-white racial confrontation. A source inside the prison told me that an official observation report was filed Saturday by security staff, noting that racial tension was apparent that evening. It is unclear if prison managers took any action.

Medium-security Joyceville Institution is located about 20 kilometres north of downtown Kingston

Oddie said staff patrolling an inside recreation area just before 9 a.m. Sunday spotted an altercation that involved “a lot” of prisoners, though she could not be specific about the number involved. Staff ordered the inmates to halt and fired chemical agents. When the melee ended, staff found eight prisoners with injuries. They were taken to a Kingston hospital.

Jason Godin, Ontario president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, said several convicts had been stabbed. Staff members were not hurt. Inmates used exercise weights to smash into rooms to attack other inmates, according to the prison sources.

Godin said drug use and violence, fueled by ruthless, gang-affiliated convicts, is a chronic problem at Joyceville.

“When things like this go down, more often than not they’re gang related and CSC continues to downplay that,” he said.

After the disturbance was contained, 83 inmates moved to an outside recreation yard and initially refused to return to their cellblocks, Oddie said. By late afternoon, they agreed to return to their cells peacefully, she said. All of the roughly 430 prisoners at Joyceville are now confined to their cells and all of the institution’s programs and activities, including visits, are suspended.

A special police unit that probes prison crime is investigating. Corrections Canada also will conduct its own internal inquiry.

Godin said the 52-year-old prison is overcrowded, decaying and houses some of the most violent convicts in Ontario.

“We’re getting the worst of the worst inmates at Joyceville because we don’t have the facilities to manage that type of an inmate in our open-style living units,” he said. Most medium-security prisons have been modernized and now feature open-concept cellblocks. Godin said Joyceville has the highest ratio of gang-affiliated inmates of any penitentiary in the province.

More than one in 10 Joyceville convicts is gang affiliated, according to documents obtained by Cancrime. The prison has roughly 55 convicts with gang affiliations including notorious street gangs like the Driftwood Crips of Toronto and several outlaw motorcycle gangs. Godin said the gang members are more violent and more active in drug smuggling than most other prisoners.

In early September, six visitors were caught on one day trying to smuggle $30,000 worth of marijuana, tobacco and drug paraphernalia into the prison.

(This story appeared first at


» Internal documents reveal gang ties of Joyceville convicts
» Drug smuggling at Millhaven tied to biker
» CSC news release on Joyceville disturbance

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2 thoughts on “Black-white race riot erupts at federal pen in Kingston

  1. Famous White Collar Crime Cases…

    […] suffered serious injuries and was in intensive care Sunday evening, according t […]…

  2. In the mid 1970s, confronted with a similiar racial dynamic in Collins Bay Institution, I organized and began the BIFA group, (Black Inmate and Friends Association) to ease the racial pressure in that institution after a race riot there.
    In the mid 1990s, while chairman of the inmate committee, I organized and began the muliti-cultural group, (a collection of group heads from all racial and religious groups) to ease the tension in Joyceville after a race-related murder in that institution. We held a multi-cultural social and had to all work together to make that event happen, it was one of the first shows to be aired.
    I am worried about prison administrations seeking to separate racial groups to get a handle on their prison populations, when the solution to easing racial tension is not in separation of the races.
    We Canadians have worked hard on racial unity and pride ourselves on being the most racially mixed population in the world. As the former leader of one of Ontarios largest racially mixed criminal gangs, I warn prison administrators to seek solutions that bring together the prison populations and resist a sub-group’s natural instinct to stick together along racial and gang affiliated bonds to survive a violent prison existance. CSC has stated that only 10% of Joyceville’s prison population is gang affiliated; what about the other 90% that are not, why should they suffer segregation due to race and racial tension; and they will if you implement American correctional policies of separation and segregation; that is the bane of corrections watch dogs around the world.
    Mob gangs, biker gangs, various dynamic racial gangs have always existed in our prisons since I began to do time in them from 1992. Then why suddenly is it so disconcerting to prison administrators to deal with such groups, when older correctional staff have dealt with such groups, under periods of unrest and violence, for decades. Have prison administrators, through policies made in Ottawa, taken away the voice of those experienced correctional officers?; have such policies also prevented experienced older inmates from mediating and working with the prison officials to make the prison a better place to exist in during their sentences?
    We were allowed to form the BIFA group thirty years ago and the multi-cultural group twenty years ago, what new group are they looking at now to end or slow down the tension building inside our prisons?
    The tension we now see may not be racially or gang motivated as the prison officals state, but really be a result of over crowding; a lack of programs, both social and educational, and from experience and more importantly, the lack of hope for peace and unity by both the front line guards and prison population. The world watches us because we brag about having the world’s best judicial/correctional system. If that boast is not full of hot air, then getting to the bottom of a problem that is caused by only a small portion of the prison population should not be such a hurdle to overcome for the world’s best.

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