inside prison

Millhaven (Federal Correctional Institution)

Quick Facts
Country Canada
Province Ontario
City Bath
Security-Level Supermax (Special Handling Unit)
Website Millhaven Institution
Jurisdiction Federal
Year opened 1971
Capacity 400-450
Population 400-450
Famous Prisoners David Milgaard

Past Events

May 1 2006: The hunger strike and riot that began on April 13 with prisoners in Millhaven's J Unit finally ended last week. Last Monday, inmates jammed open their cell doors and began lighting fires in protest over a variety of issues, including being denied family visits, lacking proper rehabilitative programs that target violence, cognitive skills, and substance abuse, and suffering poor quality food. One inmate sustained minor injuries from an assault and was sent to hospital. The riot was broken up by correctional officers using tear gas canisters.

One inmate, Robert Houle, spearheaded the movement. Houle robbed a jewelry store in 2004, beating the store owner with a hammer and firing shots that resulted in a fractured skull. (The Hamilton Spectator, 1 May 2006)

April 25, 2006: Only now publicizing the move for fear of security breaches, the Canada Border Services Agency has announced that it has successfully transferred four foreign terrorist suspects to Millhaven's new high-security protective holding facility that many are dubbing "Guantanamo North."

The $3.2 million six-cell security complex, officially the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre, is isolated from the rest of the prison. Although inmates will have access to their families, writing and reading materials, exercise and health facilities, there are criticisms that it is simply another variation of the US-style prison camp in Cuba for illegal combatants. Under the authority of the National Security Certificate, the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre is designed to hold prisoners while their deportation case is being reviewed by a federal court judge.

The four prisoners are Algerian Mohamed Harkat, Syrian Hassan Almrei, Egyptian Mohamed Mahjoub, and Egyptian Mahmoud Jaballah. Harkat is suspected of being a member of Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization.

The Security Certificate, which dates back to 1991, allows the federal government to detain terrorist suspects who are not Canadian citizens indefinitely while their case is being tried. The trial is impartial, and allows the accused to call witnesses, to rebut the government's case, to conduct itself in open court, and to be frequently open to independent judicial review. Ultimately, it is the judge's decision, not the state's, that has the ability to withhold certain facts from the public view.

In March, suspected Al Qaeda terrorist Mohamed Harkat was classified as a threat to Canadian society by a Federal Court Judge, and was taken into custody under the security certificate.

Many proponents of the security-certificate argue that without the certificate, Canada's liberal process of immigration and refugee policy would have to be tightened, since terrorist networks and international organized crime bosses would use Canada with impunity as a convenient neutral zone. The certificate, it is argued, allows the current liberal processes of acceptance continue.


15 October 1984: 31 year-old Mitchell Gordon McArthur, who was convicted of armed robbery, attempted murder, and multiple prior escape attempts, cut through his cell bars at Millhaven maximum-security institution and made his way over the barbed-wire fence to freedom.

OPP erected road-blocks and dispatched search teams to scour the surrounding area. In 1973 McArthur had escaped two officers from Sudbury while en route to Kingston Penitentiary, and in 1972 he had hacksawed through the bars of washroom window in a Walkerton jail. In 1976, he again escaped, this time from Collin's Bay Penitentiary.(The Globe and Mail, 15 October 1984)

Famous Inmates

On Sept. 6, 1995, John Wartley Richardson, friend of Ottawa Ace Crew leader Mark Williams, was released from Millhaven on a 30 month conviction for street pimping. For years, Richardson had been involved in Ottawa's street sex and narcotic trades. He had a history of violence on the street as well as a history of negative behaviour in prison that ended him up often in Millhaven's segregation unit. Millhaven's segregation unit is only one of two units in Canada (the other one is in Kingston Penitentiary) that have the security to hold high-profile criminals, such as Paul Bernardo, who was originally considered for Millhaven's segregation unit after his guilty verdict in 1995, that same year.

Richardson ignored his parole and in 1996 committed first-degree murder against Sylvian Leduc, the cousin of one of the teenage girls used for sexual solicitation and drug-running. After Leduc reportedly offended the Ace Crew, calling them "niggers," Richardson became gospel for the Ace Crew and convinced that the only way they were going to demonstrate a "street-presence" and gang territoriality was to induce fear, and that this could be achieved by fatal retaliation against the offending Leduc.

Richardson was sentenced to life in prison without parole for 25 years, with an additional 73 years tacked onto his term for prior convictions. (Schmalleger & Volk 2005, Canadian Criminology Today)

Wife killer Helmut Buxbaum was also housed at Millhaven's administrative segregation unit in the late 1980s. As of 1999, he was housed in medium-security Warkworth Institution.

Treatment Programs

Because of its role as a reception and assessment unit for federal offenders, Millhaven began its Sex Offender Assessment Service in 1993. Sex Offenders and offenders with sex-related convictions follow a three step process, starting with identification, then a review of psycho-social history, and finally a review of sex offence descriptions. The identification stage is obtained from RCMP finger-print sources. Psychological history entails developing a narrative case history which will allow service providers to tailor a treatment plan, a risk estimate, and a risk management plan. The Sex-offence description phase uses reports, briefs, victim-impact statements, and court transcripts to develop a sex-offender typology that includes victim-selection, severity of violence and intensity of sexual intrusion.

Next, the offender is asked to provide a personal interpretation of the offence through the offender's own words, which is then compared with an official interpretation. The offender's version is then processed through a scale that measures denial and minimization scores.

The offender is next assessed on the Level of Service Inventory Revised to predict general recidivism, and then the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R) to predict violent recidivism. Anything above a certain cutoff on the latter scale results in a specific violent and/or psychopathic risk rating which is then used accordingly to select treatment options.

Based on this comprehensive assessment, offenders are referred to one of Ontario's institutions that have treatment facilities matching the offender's criminogenic* or level-of-service needs. Not surprisingly, with the kinds of developments rapidly taking place in the areas of risk and treatment-need assessment, most stakeholders participating in the Millhaven Sex Offender Assessment Process rated the service as "much improved" over past services. Some respondents, however, questioned the use of phallometric assessment* in the process.

See the full report of the Assessment Process at:



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