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Media Contact: Michaela Stephen, (519) 915-3930, email@example.com
Murder on the Inside:
The True Story of the Deadly Riot at Kingston Penitentiary
by Catherine Fogarty
“You have taken our civil rights—we want our human rights.”
On April 14, 1971, a handful of prisoners attacked the guards at Kingston Penitentiary and seized control. The inmates held the guards hostage for four intense days, making headlines around the world and drawing international attention to the dehumanizing realities of incarceration when several inmates appeared on camera and described the overcrowding, inadequate rehabilitation programs, harsh punishment, and extreme isolation they endured. As negotiations between the leaders of the inmates and a citizens’ committee of journalists and lawyers entered the third day, tensions inside the prison erupted when gangs of angry, disenfranchised convicts turned their rage towards the weakest prisoners. As heavily armed soldiers prepared to regain control of the prison through a full military assault, the inmates finally gave up the fight.
Murder on the Inside tells the story of a prison in crisis set against the backdrop of a pivotal time in history when the disenfranchised
began rebelling against institutional discrimination. Like the uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York that occurred later the same year, leaving twenty-nine inmates and ten guards dead and marking a watershed moment for civil rights in America, the Kingston rebellion was a pivotal moment in Canadian thinking about human rights. Until now, few have known the story—yet the tense prison drama chronicled in this book is more relevant today than ever, as Canada’s correctional system remains mired in crisis almost fifty years later.
PRAISE FOR MURDER ON THE INSIDE
“Fogarty’s well-researched and moving debut examines a 1971 Canadian prison riot and the conditions that caused it…Fogarty sympathetically portrays Knight and others who acted in good faith. For readers who
have ever wondered about life behind bars, this is a must-read.”—Publishers Weekly
“The uprising is cast in part as a prisoners-rights movement, but it is complicated by internal struggles among inmates… [Fogarty] delivers them in three-dimensions, complicated, inconsistent, incomplete, flawed, but human beings who wanted and deserved better treatment… A detailed and balanced record… The book serves as a study of a moment and of its participants, who both reflect the time and transform it as the events of the 1971 riot would contribute to long-overdue penal reform in Canada. Where the book is at its best, the reader gets to know the inmates who struggle for power among one another and against the political system that forgot them.”—Globe & Mail
“In Murder on the Inside, the writer and television producer Catherine Fogarty relates this notable chapter in Canadian history crisply and in greater detail than the various feature articles written over the years or
even Roger Caron’s first-hand account of the event, Bingo!, from 1985. Remarkably, Fogarty gives distinct personalities to the inmates and puts us on the inside of the negotiations that ensued… Murder on the Inside tells a story that Canadians ought to know. Fogarty’s final chapter brings that story up to date and shows that we have not fully learned the lessons of 1971… The ghosts who haunted those cold, dank corridors are still with us.”—Literary Review of Canada
“The most important observation author Catherine Fogarty makes in this her first book (and a good one) is not about the notorious riot in 1971 in Kingston Penitentiary (KP) that she examines, but her conclusion that Canada’s prisons are still much better at housing and hurting people than helping them… Fogarty’s chronicle of the KP riot is a comprehensive and action-packed explanation of what went right and wrong when 500 prisoners in the worn-out and under-staffed pen went rogue… Murder on the Inside is a shocking tale of sickening savagery and unrewarded heroics, and Fogarty details with growing confidence the unhealthy, sadistic straight-jacket life inside Kingston’s notorious maximum security prison 50 years ago.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“Catherine Fogarty’s page-turner is a story of social and political failure. She’s worked very hard to flesh out the complex men on both sides of the 1971 Kingston Pen riot and make them into compelling characters. She’s found fascinating heroes and moral cowards in places you won’t expect. And, when you think you’ve reached the end of the story, Fogarty will show you injustice upon injustice. Almost no one comes out of this story looking good, including Canadians who think human beings should be locked in cages and left without hope.”—Mark Bourrie, lawyer and author of Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre Radisson
“Catherine Fogarty’s moment-by-moment recreation of the bloody 1971 riot at the notorious Kingston Penitentiary is a compelling must-read. The depth of research is remarkable. The narrative crackles with tension and foreboding. Those caught up in the standoff – inmates, guards, prison officials and journalists alike – come alive. This searing portrait of the still-too-secret world of Canada’s prisons truly is impossible to put down.”—Dean Jobb, author of The Case of the Murderous Dr. Cream and Empire of Deception
ABOUT CATHERINE FOGARTY
Catherine Fogarty is a storyteller. She is the founder and president of Big Coat Media, with offices in Toronto, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and North Carolina. An accomplished television producer, writer and director, Catherine has produced award-winning lifestyle, reality and documentary series for both Canadian and American networks.
Catherine is the executive producer of the Gemini nominated series Love It or List It. In addition to that franchise, Catherine has produced several other lifestyle and documentary series including Animal Magnetism (W Network), My Parents’ House (HGTV), and Paranormal Home Inspectors (Investigative Discovery Canada). Catherine also produced and directed I Don’t Have Time for This, an intimate documentary about young women with breast cancer.
Originally trained as a social worker, Catherine studied deviance and criminology. She worked with numerous at-risk populations including street youth, people with AIDS, abused women, and social services.
For more information, contact Michaela Stephen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at (519) 915-3930.
Murder on the Inside | Catherine Fogarty | $18.95 USD/$24.95 CAD | April 13, 2021 | 978-1-77196-401-2 (paper) 978-1-77196-402-9 (eBook) | 5.5 x 8.5 | 312 pp | Published by Biblioasis | www.biblioasis.com
Distributed in Canada by Ampersand/UTP & in the USA by Consortium/Ingram
A Biblioasis Interview with Catherine Fogarty
April 14th, 2021 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Kingston Penitentiary Riot, one of the most important prison riots in Canadian history and a key moment in the battle for both human rights and prison reform in this country. And yet, so few Canadians seem to know about it. Almost everyone I’ve talked to, even those who were not yet born, knows about the Attica riot in the US, which happened six months later and may have been at least partially inspired by the Kingston riot. But this important Canadian event has been largely buried, forgotten, if ever known at all, by almost all Canadians. Why is this? And how is it that you first came upon this story?
I first discovered this story in the Globe and Mail. It was a small paragraph – “Moment In Time” on the second page. It was April 14, 2016, forty-five years since the riot.
“April 14, 1971 – All Canada held its breath as the riot at Kingston Penitentiary ground through its desperate hours. For four tense days, inmates held six guards hostage while they vandalized the
maximum security prison’s cell blocks…”
The paragraph went on to talk about “undesirables”, inmates who were tied up and beaten on the last night of the riot. Two prisoners died from the torture they endured while hundreds of armed soldiers surrounded the penitentiary planning an early morning attack to take back the prison.
What a story! But I was immediately struck with the fact that I had never heard about it. I cut out the paragraph and put it in what I like to call my “ideas folder.” And there it stayed for two years until I began an MFA in creative nonfiction writing. I needed a book idea, and I remembered that piece of paper about the Kingston Penitentiary riot. That’s how it began and the more I researched about those four days behind Canada’s most notorious prison, the more passionate I became about taking a look behind those limestone walls and telling the full story of what happened and, more importantly, why it happened.
But I quickly discovered that unravelling the true reality of what occurred during those four long days in April 1971 was not going to be easy. How do you tell a story that no one wants to talk about, even forty- five years later?
In 1971, the riot made front-page headlines across North America. The rioting prisoners wanted the whole world to see inside. They were asking for reforms and they wanted to be treated like human beings instead of prison numbers.
But others – prison officials, bureaucrats, and politicians – did not want the prison doors opened for others to take a look inside.
And to this day, fifty years later our correctional system remains shrouded in secrecy. No one from the outside gets in, and for those incarcerated who eventually get out, there are few rehabilitation services or supports. Our recidivism rate remains one of the highest in the developed world.
But who cares? Don’t we have enough to worry about these days? Who cares about people in prison?
“Lock em up and throw away the key!” But as a civil society we must ask ourselves what is the purpose of incarceration? Retribution or reform? And what basic human rights should every person be afforded? Do those basic rights stop at the prison door?
According to the United Nations, Nelson Mandela Rules:
“All prisoners shall be treated with the respect due to their inherent dignity and value as human beings. No prisoner shall be subjected to, and all prisoners shall be protected from, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, for which no circumstances whatsoever may be invoked as a justification. The safety and security of prisoners, staff, service providers and visitors shall be ensured at all times.”
Canada’s oldest prison, Kingston Penitentiary has been shuttered since 2013. The ghosts of it’s storied past remain hidden behind the limestone walls built by it’s one-time inhabitants. But issues of mistreatment and punishment such as solitary confinement abound in our current federal penitentiaries.
The 1971 Kingston Penitentiary riot was a rallying cry for more humane treatment behind our prison walls and those cries can still be heard today. But is anyone listening?
I want to circle back to something for a second: what has surprised me is how few educated Canadians know anything about this riot, when even naming Attica brings immediate associations. Why is this? Is it, as one of my friends has suggested, because the power of American media, and our addiction to it, has driven “our part in a common story out of our mind(s)?” Or is it related to other issues? I was both fascinated and horrified by what you
uncovered concerning the lack of urgency on the part of the Swackenhammer inquiry: even at the time there seemed to be almost no desire to understand what happened.
I do believe it is in part due to our fascination with American media, which is even more prevalent now with social media. But I also believe we have traditionally been more conservative and less sensational in our news reporting. Mass media in the US has always overshadowed Canada.
As another example, I am currently writing a podcast about a serial rapist and killer in London, ON and Guelph, ON in the 1970’s. While many Canadians have heard about John Wayne Gacy, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), and the Golden State Killer (recently caught), who has heard of the “Bedroom
Strangler,” who killed 7 women in London and Guelph and attacked ten others? And there are many other examples…
Attica is one of the most important civil rights stories of the past century and was heavily reported on at the time. And of course, thirty-nine people were killed. Books, movies, documentaries, and there is another movie coming out this year to mark the 50th anniversary.
Meanwhile back in Canada, I met with the CBC twice about making a movie or dramatic series and was told…and I quote, “There aren’t enough women in the story.”
With respect to the Swackhammer report, yes it was buried. They would not make the hearings public and
quietly released its findings after removing a few sensitive pages that named names.
And the Office of the Correctional Investigator that was created afterwards is really powerless. The office can undertake investigations and can make recommendations on correctional service policies, but the government does not have to implement them.
I like how you’ve contextualized the 1971 Kingston riot within the history of other riots, at Kingston and otherwise. I’ve just finished working on another book, which reminded me of Martin Luther King’s argument that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” This is something
Billy Knight, the organizer of the riot, argues as well. People at the time, the Solicitor General, the Minister of Justice, the media downplayed this, but the truth of this comes out in your book.
I hope the truth shines through the pages and I hope it creates much needed dialogue.
The Canadian government is still refusing to let people inside our federal institutions and the entire system
lacks third party oversight. As I said, “The fox is still guarding the henhouse!”