Just Visiting: Jo Jo Chinto Goes to Prison

posted by Brian Judge on May 04, 2011 in Prison TV Blog | 2 comments
Just Visiting: Jo Jo Chinto Goes to Prison

By Ricky Atkinson:  When this clip was first aired in the mid 90’s, the attitude of showcasing one of the best prison systems in the world allowed Brian Judge and I to produce the first ever prison based TV show. Wardens like Fred Sisson allowed us to roam the institution without hindrance or censorship from him or his staff

 

So when Jo Jo Chinto, former crime reporter for City TV in Toronto Ontario, decided to just drop by and visit while I was in Frontenac minimum security institution, bringing with him a film crew, it was fortunate that Corrections Canada had a policy that enabled their doors to be open for media types to visit prisons and interview prisoners.  

 

Today that access would not and could not happen.

 

New policies have curtailed access to the media by prisoners. Wardens simply close the door and are directed by Ottawa politicians, far away from the front lines of prisons across the country. 

 

In the video, Eli Askov and I are not whining about our sentences or the conditions of our incarceration. We are simply trying to bring light to our situation and inform the Canadian public as to how we perceive our incarcerated predicaments. 

 

Jo Jo calls me a model prisoner, something I have always been, having one of the best institutional records for someone who has done my kind of time, anywhere in Canada. Such an unblemished prison record has not translated into gaining ‘early release’ for me. As a matter of fact, it has worked against me. Prison officials have told me over the years that by having nothing for them to assess in my behaviour over time (no drug charges, fighting or stabbings, attempt escapes, damaging government property or just a shitty attitude towards my captors) leads them to think in  more cautious manner and to deny my release applications again and again.

 

There’s a game that prisoners play of being bad when first entering the system, then allowing the programs in place to ‘correct’ the unacceptable behaviour giving the prison officials something to assess, correct and cover their collective asses with. I have never played that game, even though I’ve known it existed. I believed in doing my own time, not causing any problems was the best way for me to survive the horrors of prison life even if it took a few more years to get out. 


Watching the video clip you see us laughing and looking optimistically towards our future because we both believed in the end, we would be released back in to society. What the video does not show or allude to, is our future.  Eli was released, stole another truck full of goods and was stripped of his refugee status, his citizenship taken from him and kicked out of Canadafor good.

 

I was released on a day parole but allowed the government to entrap me into committing a drug conspiracy; I was arrested and sentenced to an additional twenty years of which I served another fifteen years of that sentence.  I can still laugh as I had with Eli and Jo Jo, but find less and less joy in a prison system that is loosing its uniqueness and mimicking the abysmal American system.

 

I still hope for a better future but know that fifteen years has gone by without much progress in the direction most of us want our lives to go in. I will grasp what is left of life with a firm hand and work towards making a more socially positive footprint to leave behind. Hopefully for the balance of this journey I can change the lives of kids destined to be what I was . . . a model prisoner . . .  and instead help them to become model citizens . . .  much to the chagrin of those who profit from incarcerated men and women.

 


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2 Responses to "Just Visiting: Jo Jo Chinto Goes to Prison"

  1. Norma

    I say "shame on the politicians" who,like Cathy McLeod,MP for Kamloops is lobbying for a prison in their constituency. They seek profit from the misery of others.
    We should be building communities -mental health clinics,supportive housing,funding "Boys & Girls Clubs etc.,not building more prisons aka 'crime schools'.

  2. richard atkinson

    Cathy, sometime in the mid to late eighties a news clip aired about mayors from around New York state got into a fist fight in the State building over who was going to get a prison in thei
    r township. Prisons make some people a lot of money and take from the pockets of everyday taxpayers that money to pay for them. Glad you see the light cause so many are blind or just dont care, thanks..Richard Atkinson producer/rpisontv.net Vancouver BC.