Monday, October 31, 2005

Revisiting Porter/Jameson: Thoughts and Questions

Note: This has been edited to include stuff not in this before. Scroll down to questions if you've already read this before.
In an earlier posting I had about JJ/Norman, I stated my four thoughts on his situation. They were:
  1. He had rehabilitated himself,
  2. He may not have repaid his debt to society,
  3. Who's to say he didn't turn himself in, and
  4. Some people are better off behind bars. He may be one of these people.
As for the first point, while I still stand by that viewpoint I've narrowed the scope of that to the killing part. The basic soul and spirit behind the man seems to have been stubbornly unchanged, while he himself kept a running total of how much of his old self was still alive, I would bet that remaining part was the basic foundation -- the portion of himself that he couldn't destroy no matter how hard he tried.

While the guy who wrote this article is, I believe, a bit nuts (as is the majority of the Chicago poetry and arts community, IMHO), the article is, I believe, an accurate reflection of Mr. Porter/Jameson. It seems the guy is loyal to his friends (to a fault?) and distrustful (if not hateful) to the rest. Maybe it's because of his being an escapee, but there's definitely a stain on this guy's name.

As for the idea of paying off his debt to society, there's still the ghost of the two killed men. Not only that, but it's obvious that the American public has supported the idea that more should be paid for the crime -- both in prison and afterwards. While the idea of the death penalty has yet to become a nationwide, active cause, there will eventually be a need for it if the trends continue -- after all, Americans are cheap and keeping people in jail year after year (even without trying to make them into future upstanding citizens) is DAMN expensive. And not the 20 years of making sure we got the right guy we have now, either; if it comes back in vogue there will be a strong drive for it to be immediate, unimpeded and active. Texas will only be the shadow of things to come.

As for him turning himself in, I don't think it happened that way. I also doubt that he was found via the FBI; as all they would have done is melded the Porter and Jameson files into a single computer file with two identities in case either one came in. I think someone called the FBI -- remember, he was Poet of the Month when he was arrested -- and they matched up the fingerprints as a matter of making sure. Wouldn't surprise me if someone, knowing he wrote poetry in jail, looked through various poetry websites and found what he was looking for.

Remember, we're talking about Public Enemy Number one here, not a two-bit shoplifter. Two dead, twenty-two escapes from prison and two famillies who've built their whole world around making one man suffer for his crimes against them (Never mind their so-called claims at having lived their whole life; one of the ladies considers his "confession" as her most prized posession) makes for a lot of heat aimed at someone. It didn't surprise me that the moment his face got nationwide exposure was the moment his freedom came to an end.

Not that I blame him for escaping. I still don't. After all, we're talking about a place no one should want to be in. I know a few nations that don't consider escaping from prison as a crime for this reason alone. Besides, as Detective Lieutenant Kevin Horton said on Boston's version of America's Most Wanted, "He saw the handwriting on the wall. That the system was [becoming more punitive]." (yes, I did change the quote. Made it less PC, more accurate to what he wanted to say. And more to the way many in the US want it to be, at its most kindest).

And finally, I have a couple questions. Not very king towards Porter/Jameson, but stuff he needs to answer to, IMHO:
  1. Would the families have wanted to persecute him so much if he had apologized to the families years before?

    The fact that it took him months to finally admit that he did do some murdering and apologize to the families AFTER HE WAS FOUND AGAIN AND TAKEN BACK TO PRISON leads me to ask that question. Plus there seemed to be nothing about him having apologized before his jailbreak (had he done so, the press would have brought it up. The press did this when I talked about the guy in Indiana). I have to wonder: if he apologized to them before he walked away from jail, would they still be out for his blood? Indeed, would he have needed to break away -- after all, if there's no family members demanding he stay behind bars, the guy would probably have gotten a job at a Boston University and have taught generations of poets how to write in his style.

  2. What other crimes may he have committed during his years away from prison?

    Let's face it, this guy may be smart and strangely manipulative (remember, he held his friends close and everyone else in severe contempt), but it seems his basic personality was static throughout the years. Four arrests between 1989 and 1994 under the Jameson name -- how many more, and where else? The people looking for him were looking in the wrong places -- Southeastern U.S., Canada and Europe. Are there people in the Chicago River with his handprints around their neck? Maybe the poet shot in 1997 was shot by him (I can hear the families of the murdered now, praying for this to have happened, and badgering God why more of the Chicago poets didn't get such a "present" from him). Maybe elsewhere -- he WAS in Washington State at one time.

    Besides, who does petty crimes at the age of fifty? Only someone who hasn't reformed; IMHO.

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