Canadians are celebrating 150 years of nationhood on July 1, marking the birth of the Dominion in 1867. The year also marks an origin point for Kingston Penitentiary, although the institution already was 32 years old at the time of Confederation. Built on the north shore of Lake Ontario in eastern Ontario, on a small bay adjacent to the Village of Portsmouth, the facility was known for the first three decades of its existence as the Provincial Penitentiary at Portsmouth. It received its first prisoners on June 1, 1835. It was renamed Kingston Penitentiary in 1867, becoming the new nation’s first federal prison. Confederation may have stirred joy and national pride, but it was not a happy time for prisoners of the Dominion. A repressive regime of enforced silence, punishment and hard labour persisted at Kingston Pen.
Carolyn Solomon, a mother of two from Sudbury, Ontario, travelled 1,500 kilometres, past razor-wire topped steel fences and gun-toting watchtower guards, into the bowels of a federal penitentiary, to confront the man who murdered her son. Why did she do it? What did the killer say when Solomon looked into his eyes and demanded to know why he shot her son? Solomon explains in The Mother and the Murderer, Episode 8 of the Cancrime podcast (after the jump).
Canada’s worst rapist, a serial predator who may have assaulted more than 1,000 women, is free from prison and one of the investigators who caught him is certain he’ll strike again. But Selva Subbiah, 56, (inset) should not pose a threat in Canada. He’s being deported to his native Malaysia. Subbiah was caught more than 25 years ago because of the dogged work of police investigators who amassed a mountain of evidence that sent him to prison for nearly a quarter century. His penitentiary sentence in Canada expired January 29, 2017. Subbiah is an unrepentant manipulator and liar who insists that he presents “zero risk” to reoffend. Experts who have examined him conclude that he poses a high risk to commit more, violent sex crimes, despite treatment he’s undergone while behind bars. He was repeatedly denied parole because of the undiminished danger he poses. Subbiah was caught in 1991 by Brian Thomson and Peter Duggan, investigators in the Toronto police department. In the podcast (after the jump), Thomson recounts in detail how he and his partner ensnared Subbiah with an undercover operation and located a trove of evidence that was key to Subbiah’s conviction and lengthy sentence.
(UPDATE – Feb. 1, 2017: As expected, Subbiah was ordered deported after an immigration and refugee board hearing.)
(SECOND UPDATE – Feb. 7, 2017: As I tweeted yesterday, Subbiah was flown to Malaysia, under guard, on Feb. 6)
Do killers locked in Canadian prisons marry, get conjugal visits with their new wives and father children, while they remain behind bars? Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, it happens regularly. But what about a sadistic serial rapist and killer like Paul Bernardo, who has been in prison since November 1995, after he was convicted of murdering two teenage girls in Ontario, Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy? Well, maybe. The questions are relevant, given news (broken in a story by Sunmedia) that Bernardo has struck up a romantic relationship with a 30-year-old woman from London, Ontario, who wants to marry the man considered one of the most depraved serial killers caught in Canada in the last half century. I think Bernardo may be working a scheme with this relationship.
It is unlikely, if history is a guide, that Constable James Forcillo (inset), the Toronto police officer charged in a fatal streetcar shooting, will be convicted and sent to prison. No Toronto officer has ever been convicted of murder in an on-duty killing, according to the Toronto Star. But, if Forcillo were convicted, what would life be like in prison? It would be a hellish experience in which he’d be forced to live in protective custody, segregated from other prisoners, mindful always that fellow convicts would be plotting to kill him. A bounty might be placed on his head and the fellow con who succeeded in killing him would be regarded by other inmates as a hero. “To be a police officer in prison is very difficult,” former Niagara Region officer Lawrence Squire said in feeble voice, speaking to a documentary film crew from his solitary confinement cell at maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary, where he had been confined after his conviction for non-capital murder more than 30 years ago.
Penitentiary inmates, particularly those serving lengthy sentences, often find inventive inspiration in those passing hours and days. One convict at medium-security Stony Mountain Institution in Manitoba, near Winnipeg, turned his time and creativity to the fabrication of a remarkable weapon. It might rank among the most ingenious ever found inside a Canadian prison, not solely for its remarkable design, but also because of its lethal potential.
Ex-convict Pat Kincaid says a prison treatment program that helped him make sense of decades of distorted thinking was the key to going straight. “It taught me how to make decisions the proper way and go over the consequences of my actions,” said Kincaid, who was paroled from a minimum-security prison in Kingston nearly two years ago and has since lived crime free. Thousands of federal offenders are not taking intensive programs like the one Kincaid credits for his turnaround, according to figures (doc after jump) compiled by Corrections Canada and recently released.
The Conservative government barely blinked in response to a 100-page parliamentary report that condemns the decision to close prison farms and recommends they be resurrected. “We could not disagree more with the misguided priorities of the Ignatieff Liberals and their coalition partners,” Public Safety Minister Vic Toews states, in an e-mailed response to my request for comment.