Shortlisted for The Brass Knuckles Award for Best Nonfiction Crime Book
“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.
Praise for Murder on the Inside
“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
“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
“Fogarty’s approach makes for a compelling narrative and an extremely readable book … Fogarty’s most significant contribution is in a number of original interviews with guards, including one who had been held hostage, and prisoners who had lived through the riot. These interviews allow for a rich chronicling of events … Murder on the Inside successfully weaves a concise history of Canada’s most notorious prison into a compelling story of the 1971 riot and its aftermath and is a valuable contribution to the history of Canada’s prisons and the Canadian prison justice movement.”—Ontario History
“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-Esprit 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
“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