The number of prisoners significantly increased by the time Rev. Wilfrid T. Kingsley, Catholic Chaplain at the Penitentiary, informed Archbishop McNeil that he would be receiving a copy of the official report of penitentiaries for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1929. Kingsley indicated the total number of prisoners per year for 1927 to 1929 and specifically noted the number of Catholics. On average, it appears that approximately 35 percent of the inmates at the Kingston Penitentiary at that time were Catholic.
Rev. John E. Burke of the Newman Club of Toronto made a Mission to the Kingston Penitentiary in 1923. Upon his return, he sent Archbishop McNeil copies of an address to Burke from the prisoners and copies of at least two of the letters that prisoners wrote to Burke, saying how much his Mission positively affected them.
It is very clear that Burke deeply affected the prisoners. This is one of the letters:
Individuals would write to the Archbishop to request assistance in releasing certain prisoners. In 1885, the inspector of penitentiaries, James G. Moylan, presented the case of Michael Finn to Archbishop Lynch to ask for help in freeing Finn. Finn was convicted for the attempted murder of his wife and had already spent 11 years in prison.
Sometimes the Archbishop received direct requests from prisoners to aid in their release. Philip S. Martin, Convict #F.417, entreated Archbishop McNeil to help him secure parole. Martin explained his situation quite eloquently (and in fascinating penmanship) and insisted that he would be a better person in the future should McNeil intercede.
Another part of the above letter that is interesting to note is the message from the Warden at the top of the page addressing those who wanted to send letters to convicts at the penitentiary:
"Letters to Convicts in this Penitentiary should contain nothing but family, personal or business matters. General news, neighborhood gossip or reference to other Convicts will prevent delivery of the letter. Enclosures, such as newspaper clippings, photographs–except small size of some near relative–toothbrushes, handkerchiefs, cards, pictures, fruits, cakes, Christmas boxes, etc., are prohibited."
Kingston Penitentiary was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990. It officially closed as a federal prison on September 30, 2013, and is now open to the public for tours.