It’s hard to imagine that anyone would believe outlaw biker Carl Bursey when he claims that he has renounced gang life. At age 43, Bursey has amassed more than 70 convictions for drug dealing, violence, possession of weapons and making death threats. A member of the Bandidos biker gang, Bursey has been in and out of prison repeatedly for more than 20 years. He has been caught violating release rules, consorting with gangsters and committing new crimes every time he’s been turned loose. His statutory release from his latest federal term was finally revoked after four suspensions including a head-buttting confrontation with a rival biker gang member.
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.”
(One of several interviews I conducted with paroled bank robber Richard Atkinson for the following story was done by Skype and recorded – watch the interview after the jump. Atkinson talks about the exploits he is documenting in an autobiography he is completing.)
Five-year-old Ricky Atkinson was excited when he found the shiny .38-calibre revolver hidden in his father’s bedroom. Sonny Atkinson managed a bar in a rough-and-tumble downtown Toronto neighbourhood and he often brought the nightly earnings home. The boy took the loaded gun and his four-year-old brother out into the back yard. “I got my younger brother Dwane to stand against the wall with an apple on his head,” recalls Atkinson, now 56. “The whole William Tell thing and I attempted to shoot the apple.”
Canada’s federal prisons have a growing gang problem. More disenfranchised young men who live on a diet of drugs and violence on the street are importing that culture to penitentiary cellblocks, where they can dominate weaker convicts, continue to peddle drugs and kill whenever necessary. Confidential Corrections Canada documents that I obtained – including a gang profile of the inmate population at Joyceville Institution in Kingston, Ontario – reveal that more than 10% of the prison’s convicts are gang affiliated and a dozen are outlaw bikers.
You knew that all the publicity surrounding gang violence in the Vancouver area was going to attract hyperbole as the issue gets hijacked for use as anecdotal evidence of a crime crisis that requires tougher laws, including longer sentences, and more police.