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This limitation of function is reflected in the 'Rules and Regulations respecting Prisons of Isolation' which were promulgated in 1893. Section 1 set out the criteria for admission to Canada's first super-maximum institution:

Any male convict whose conduct is found to be vicious, or who persists in disobedience to the Rules and Regulations of the Prison, or who is found to exercise a pernicious influence on his fellow convicts may be imprisoned in the Prison of Isolation for an indefinite period not to exceed the unexpired term of the convict's sentence.66

Before a prisoner could be sent to the Prison of Isolation, the warden was required to transmit to the inspector, for the minister of justice's consideration, his report of the facts, and the reasons justifying such imprisonment. The rules also laid down the regime under which prisoners were to be confined. These included confinement in the special cells; strict silence; separate exercise for about an hour a day in the presence of an officer; employment at such labour as may be ordered; restriction to a special diet for at least three months, subject to the approval of the surgeon; and no visits or letters for the same period. At the end of the three months, subject to their good conduct, prisoners could receive the ordinary prison diet; at the end of three additional months, again subject to good conduct, they were eligible to return to the ordinary cells.67 The regulations also provided that 'any convict who had been ordered more than once during the same term of imprisonment to undergo confinement in the Prison of Isolation shall be kept there to the expiration of his sentence unless otherwise ordered by the Minister upon the recommendation of the warden, on account of good conduct and well assured amendment.'68 Furthermore, after confinement in the Prison of Isolation, prisoners were not to return immediately to work in the general population of Kingston; 'as a measure of prevention, but not punishment' they were to be kept on probation in separate working gangs for such time as the warden deemed necessary .'69 Finally, 'penal class convicts,' as prisoners confined in the Prison of Isolation were known, did not receive any remission time.70

The 108 cells in the Prison of Isolation were markedly larger than those in the rest of Kingston Penitentiary. The cells measured some thirteen feet long, nine feet wide, and ten feet high, in contrast to the original cell block in which the cells were ten feet by two feet eight inches by six feet, a size that on more than one occasion had drawn the condemnation of visitors to Kingston.71 The larger cell size was attributable to the fact that prisoners were required not only to live but also to work in their cells. Although the Prison of Isolation had been viewed as a place to which other penitentiaries could send their incorrigibles, it remained, with a few exceptions, a prison within a prison only for Kingston Penitentiary because of the high cost of transfer from the other penitentiaries.72

The inspector's annual reports from 1896 to 1903 contain separate tables listing the names of all prisoners received into the Prison of Isolation and the length of their stay. Between 8 November 1894, the day the Prison of Isolation received its first prisoners, and 30 June 1896, sixty- seven prisoners were received and thirty-eight were discharged, leaving a population of twenty-nine.73 The length of stay ranged from three to sixteen months. A review of the tables of admission and discharge in subsequent years indicates that although a few prisoners spent up to two years in solitary confinement, the average length of stay was about six months.74

The Prison of Isolation was viewed by the authorities as a successful disciplinary strategy. In 1897 the inspector confidently asserted that 'the Prison of Isolation, which is the only institution of the kind in Canada, has fully demonstrated the superiority of the Belgium system as regards to treatment of incorrigibles and criminal cranks ...It is evidence that the extension of the system to the other penitentiaries will enable the authorities to dispense with the "triangle" and other relics of semi-civilization.'75 In 1901, he reported that 'the direct individual treatment which it affords rarely fails to have the desired effect.'76 Dr Daniel Phelan, the surgeon at Kingston, was equally complimentary in his views:

Popular ignorance has confounded the solitary system with the 'separate' or 'isolation' system as carried on here. The 'solitary' system consisted in shutting up unfortunate offenders in subterranean cells without light, books, exercise or employment, and as a consequence mental and physical disease was the result. The fictitious stories regarding the production of insanity by the separate or isolation system are not founded on facts and originated from the experiences of the solitary system. The Prison of Isolation is the best place as a safeguard to mental equipoise. No case of insanity could so far be attributed to it.77

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