KP Riot: 40 years ago this month

posted by Brian Judge on Apr 12, 2011 in Prison TV Blog | 0 comments
KP Riot: 40 years ago this month

 It was mid-April 1971 when convicts at Kingston Penitentiary held guards hostage and destroyed the cellblocks. They also killed two prisoners deemed "undesirables."


Shortly after the riot at KP, along with three other Dirty Tricks Gang members, I walked into Kingston Penitentiary’s cavernous dome and was stunned into silence by the enormity of the damage to the cell blocks and other infrastructures that made up the oldest toughest prison in Canada.


I was only 17 years old and knew that if hell was anywhere I had just been inducted into it. Within 60 days I was working on the prison mason gang helping to rebuild what the angry mob of prisoners tried to rip down. I was transferred to Millhaven prison, 'the most dangerous square mile in Canada' to begin my prison sentence and over the next 35 years would find myself in so many prisons, having met so many prisoners, guards and wardens, that all the faces and names have blurred with time.


What has not faded is the realization that the KP riot was an exercise in futility.


The prison was rebuilt by convicts like me; the protective custody inmates like the ones that were preyed upon are now on inmate committee's in most prisons in Canada and in essence run the prisons; more money and bigger prisons are being built, more prisoners are being sent to them . . . and at younger and younger ages.


All prisons are shinny examples of society’s failure and inability to stop crime before it starts. I have learned after forty years of running a gang that to stop crime and prevent the need for prisons, we must look to those who can help change the path a child walks, in his quest to be “in” a gang. These people will come from the courts, police, sociology students, churches, informed parents and through former convicts and motivational speakers like me. 


When I look back at Kingston Penitentiary the way it was 40 years ago I wonder why being there didn’t stop me from a life of crime. I know now that at 17 years old, it was already too late; I would have to have see it at as a 5 year old!


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