“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, making headlines around the world. For four intense days, the prisoners held the guards hostage while their leaders negotiated with a citizens’ committee of journalists and lawyers, drawing attention to the dehumanizing realities of their incarceration, including overcrowding, harsh punishment and extreme isolation. But when another group of convicts turned their pent-up rage towards some of the weakest prisoners, tensions inside the old stone walls erupted, with tragic consequences. As heavily armed soldiers prepared to regain control of the prison through a full military assault, the inmates were finally forced to surrender.
Murder on the Inside tells the harrowing story of a prison in crisis against the backdrop of a pivotal moment in the history of human rights. Occurring just months before the uprising at Attica Prison, the Kingston riot has remained largely undocumented, and few have known the details—yet the tense drama chronicled here is more relevant today than ever. A gripping account of the standoff and the efforts for justice and reform it inspired, Murder on the Inside is essential reading for our times.
Includes 24 pages of photographs.
Fogarty's well-researched and moving debut examines a 1971 Canadian prison riot and the conditions that caused it. Located in Kingston, Ontario, Kingston Penitentiary opened in 1835, making it Canada's oldest prison. By 1971, the prison was in poor physical condition, overcrowded with inmates, and understaffed. Prisoners could spend years in solitary confinement, where many died by suicide and often ate only bread and water. On April 14 of that year, inmate Billy Knight, the prison's barber, instigated a riot demanding better civil rights for the prisoners. Six guards were taken hostage, and an inmate committee started day and night negotiations with a citizens committee. The government had no intention of giving in to the inmates' demands and ordered the army to surround the prison. With the army expected to storm at any minute, the general population became violent, almost destroying the prison and beating undesirable prisoners, namely sex offenders and snitches. Two died, and 14 had to be hospitalized. Four days after the start of the riot, the prisoners surrendered. 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.