An Ontario man charged with violently assaulting two people in southwestern B.C. is a paroled killer responsible for five deaths in a 25-year criminal career that includes a dramatic prison break, the kidnapping and rape of a woman and a shootout at a police roadblock. Documents acquired by Cancrime reveal that Thomas Brydges, 73, who is serving a life sentence, was granted full parole – the most permissive freedom for a lifer – in 2014, despite a psychological assessment that concluded his risk for reoffending was “moderate-high level” and despite a previous failure on full parole. Brydges was notorious in Ontario, in part, for drowning four friends when he drove a stolen car into a canal to elude pursuing police and for his role in a breakout from medium-security Collins Bay penitentiary in Kingston that led to a three-day crime spree.
Say “prison weapon,” and most people think of handcrafted knives – known in convict parlance as ‘shanks’ and ‘shivs.’ They’re the most plentiful illegal weapons found inside jails and prisons because they are easily crafted and concealed. Often, they are crude – sharpened butter knives or spoons that have been flattened and honed to a point, for instance. But some convicts combine equal portions ingenuity, resourcefulness and desperation to produce truly remarkable prison weaponry. Frighteningly deadly and destructive arms turn up every so often and fortunately, most such weapons are ferreted out by prison staff before they’re put to use. Such was the case in 1972 at medium-security Collins Bay Institution in Kingston, Ontario, where staff discovered that a convict or convicts had crafted a deadly, working shotgun (pic after the jump) using common bits of hardware.
Corrections Canada will build maximum-security cellblocks inside medium-security prisons in Ontario and Manitoba, a move that some observers believe is a government scheme to create super-prisons while avoiding public scrutiny and controversy. “They tell you they’re not going to build a super regional complex but it’s already here, it’s going to happen,” said Jason Godin, Ontario president of the union that represents correctional officers. “They wanted to appease the critics and say, ‘We’re not building a super jail.’ ”
A correctional officer at a medium-security prison in Ontario suffered a suspected concussion and bruises after he was ambushed by a prisoner today in a violent attack on a cellblock. Corrections Canada isn’t providing much detail about the incident, perhaps in a bid to downplay the seriousness of the assault, but Cancrime learned that an inmate attacked the Collins Bay Institution officer from behind with a blunt weapon, smashing him first on the head and neck. As the officer tumbled to floor and desperately reached for his pepper spray, the inmate continued the attack, sources told me.
Convicts at medium-security Collins Bay penitentiary in Kingston, Ontario, have refused to report to their prison jobs in a protest over double bunking, Cancrime learned. The practice forces two prisoners to live in a cell designed for one. Corrections Canada has dramatically increased its use of double bunking as it scrambles to accommodate a surging inmate population – the result of the Conservative government’s tough-on-crime policies. But it appears that senior prison bosses are secretly (internal memo after jump) building a documentary trail designed to rationalize their use of double bunking, which is contrary to UN standards on the treatment of prisoners.
It’s no wonder a deadly bounty accrues from even a small drug debt in prison. The price of drugs and other forbidden substances, including tobacco, is skyrocketing. It means inmate-on-inmate attacks rise, both in number and violence, as convicts extract revenge for unpaid bills or to send bloody warnings to other debtors. An internal Corrections Canada memo obtained by Cancrime, written by a top official in Ontario (above) reveals that one marijuana joint now costs $50 inside a federal prison, roughly 10 times the price on the street in Kingston, Ontario, where a joint is typically $5.