Bath and Millhaven Institutions are located outside of Kingston, about a 30 minute drive west. A scenic drive through the countryside and along Lake Ontario, this prison is tucked away on a hill off of Route 33 which is lined with residential neighborhoods. The approach to the campus is more reminiscent of a suburban shopping center than a two prisons housing 900+/-offenders of various security levels. Beginning with Bath Institution, I spent the entire day at both facilities with Mr. Paul Cybulski who gave me quite an extensive tour, introducing me to various departments where I had the opportunity to learn about the operations of the facilities. I was not allowed to take photographs inside of these facilities for both security and offender privacy reasons, so I relied on quick sketching to document my experience.
To give an overall description of the close proximity and layout of the campuses, a quick GoogleEarth image tells the story of where the facilities are located and the amount of structures that make up the prisons. Bath Institution currently houses 530 medium security male offenders and Millhaven has 400 maximum security male offenders. These facilities are run by the Correctional Services Canada as opposed to territorial jurisdiction (similar to the U.S. system of federal vs. state). It is a common theme at Bath to have offenders live communally in the various forms of apartment style housing. Collectively, they must grocery shop, prepare food, and maintain the cleanliness of their living quarters. Mr. Cybulski mentioned that there is no violence in the Bath facility and he believes it is because the offenders have more freedoms (circulation throughout the campus, choice of foods and the ability to work). Inmates must apply to come to this facility and there is a waiting list.
When discussing the architecture and design of the buildings inside of the perimeter fence, it is common to the other facilities in Canada I visited that they are out-of-date. There is not a demand for new prisons to be built because the low/steady population, but the existing structures need to be updated/renovated. One main area where this was apparent was in the temporary housing trailers which were meant to last 3-5 years but are still in use after 18 years. A guard on duty at the trailer residences explained that offenders cannot be “double bunked” because the structure would not be able to support the added weight.
As is common to most prisons in Ontario, there is an aboriginal garden which can only be entered by aboriginal offenders. This is where rituals and gatherings are held to maintain the traditions of aboriginal inmates. If you are not aboriginal, you must be invited to enter and this includes guards and staff as well (unless there is an emergency).
Touring Millhaven Institution was the second part of the day. This is a maximum security men’s facility equipped with a gallery where guards can walk through hidden halls above the offender communal spaces so they can look down on the activity below. I was able to walk through this dark, secret corridor, and experience the routine activity of a prison guard. It was in this facility as well that I experienced my first solitary confinement area, something which Canada is phasing out of their correctional practices.