Thursday, March 22, 2012

Some thoughts and a last letter

In the last week I have had a ton of traffic on my blog because of my posts about Matt Puckett.  Not many have commented on my posts, but there's been a fair amount of traffic.  I can only imagine that most people don't know what to say, so they remain silent.  The silence doesn't bother me.  Some people who know me might think I'm a bit kooky or out there because of the things I've done in the past couple of years.  Others think I'm brave for where I've ventured.  Others just think I'm a bleeding heart liberal who wants to hug it out with everyone.  I respect all of their opinions.  We all have a calling in our lives. My calling just happens to be about prison and death.  

So what does bother me about this whole situation, besides the obvious fact that a man is now dead?  Let's start with the comment sections on different news sources and there's a ton--like 155 articles throughout the US.  I've only read a few, but it's like reading a transcript of the Jerry Springer show. The people who are for the death penalty appear to be the most violent with their words.  "Hang him high," "use a rusty needle," "one bullet."  And on and on.  It seriously disturbs me how people can be so callous with their remarks about someone they don't know.  Yes, there are people out there who have done some absolutely horrible things, but should we take pleasure in their death?  I think not.

Next.  The ritualized nature of state sanctioned murder.  The state of Mississippi had three press conferences about Matt.  The Superintendent Epps appeared to take a strange glee in the countdown to the kill.  He hinted in the press release that in his experience with 17 executions that the men would usually confess at the last stay tuned folks!  They also reported that Matt seemed "somber."  Well, how the hell was he supposed to act?  How would you act if you knew that this was your last day on earth and that you would be lead into a room by a team of men who were going to strap you down, insert needles into your arms and then kill you in front of an audience?  Gleeful?

Which oddly leads me to a totally unrelated, but perhaps not, movie that is being released at midnight tonight. "The Hunger Games"  I don't read much fiction, but for some reason I picked that trilogy up at the library and read through it, dare I say, hungrily.  I loved it.  I loved that the heroine is strong, compassionate, and kicks ass.  The book got me thinking about current day American society and our love for "reality" television and violence.  And after I've watched the circus that Matt's execution became, I'm fairly certain that if death row inmates were thrown into a scenario like the hunger games, people would watch.  They'd praise the tax dollars that would be saved, they'd love the violence, and they wouldn't turn away from the carnage.

As I wrote this blog, the mail came.  My last letter from Matt.  I figured I'd post it.  But, first a word from our sponsor.


Dear Pamela,

Hello!  Well, I never wanted to go through this.  And it sucks that you are doing it again.  We humans are kinda crappy to one another.

I went through a round of letter to as many churches and organizations that I could.  Something like 80 stamps worth.  Don’t know if there was any good done or all a bust.  Thursday was the last mail call day—the last day we could send mail out—so I couldn’t write more.  I fell back to writing to everyone on my monthly schedule.  Got a lot done so far.  About 12 more to go.

They aren’t that long.  I have to thank everyone.  There have been so many good people that supported me.  I couldn’t have found a better group of people.  So, thank you for all the love and kindness.  I so hate that we couldn’t keep the correspondence going.

It’s technically not over with but I’ve had nothing but bad news for so long I do not expect it to change.  I’m tired anyway.  Hell one minute I’m up hoo-rahing, the next I’m just out of it.

I’m still at 29 Jay.  I actually expected them to come today at  four-o’clock to pick me up.  Usually when the date is a Wednesday they come on a Sunday to get them.  Since mine is a Tuesday I figured a Saturday.  I thought that despite the fact that Sparkmann told me they would come Sunday.  So about  four o’clock tomorrow they will come get me and take me to unit 17.  I try to get some hope drummed up and then viciously close it off.  Once you go to 17 it is rare that they make a trip back.  Only twice out of 12 executions.

I’ll be the only prisoner in the whole unit.  Constant guard from then on out.  When I go I can’t take anything with me.  I pleaded with Sparkmann to let me take my journal.  It’s my catharsis. And it would suck so much to record all those years and not be able to describe the last 48 hours.  He let me take that and some stationary.  I don’t want to take that so I am trying to get the letters done here at 29.  Get that task done and I will get the last four essays in final draft.

I laugh at myself because I had not done much writing.  And when that ball is rolling, I have been on a tear.  Wish I had that motivation all the time.

I’ve given most of my stuff away.  A couple of items left—a fan, hygiene items, bed linen, clothes, basic shit.  When I first got locked up all I had was a spoon and a cup.  I’m almost full circle.

I gave it all away.  TV, radio, dictionary—these possessions had been in my cell for years.  They’d been packed up and moved to other cells.  They made the trip from 32 to 29.

That’s my day.  Write letters. Give items away.  Met a couple preachers today.  Less and less activity, like a pendulum slowing down.  I used to be rabid about activity.  I had to do something.  I reasoned there was no minute of the day when something couldn’t be done.  My energy has me shaking my leg, you know like people do—bounce on the toes while sitting.  I hate idle.  I hate not being able to do something.  Cleaning the showers was a bitch, but it took work that I loved.

Shoot, I’ve ramble on enough.  With deep sincerity I thank you for being my friend.  Thank you for the kindness and love.  Keep at the cause.  Only when people care can something be done.

Make them care.



  1. I admire your compassion and tenacity, Pam. Keep up the cause. Make them care.

  2. Pam,
    That letter truly brought tears to my eyes.

    Many people are just plain cruel. And how is death entertainment for so many? I don't get it.

    Compassion and love are the answer, especially in cases where someone is supposedly an enemy (like Matt was so some). I bet these people also call themselves Christians (wanna bet?). Oh the irony.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. You are doing an amazing thing by showing the world forgiveness in action.

  3. Wow. Reading Matt's letter is surreal. For you and others, like myself, who are against the death penalty, we read the words of a compassionate human whether guilty of a crime or not .. and I am not on a jury panel to make that call. I do not know or have been provided all the mounds of judiciary filings to fully know the case. None of us could know really.

    We read the words of a man with struggles and personal reconciliations. Unfortunately, those in favor will de-humanize an individual who they believe received a fair trial and will, therefore, jump on the bandwagon of sensationalism.

    A few years ago I was watching a documentary that I do not recall which, where an individual was being executed. I believe he had been found guilty of death to a child. The camera panned into the room where the execution would take place. The table, straps, a sheet, medical equipment and a chair or two. Then he was brought into the room and strapped down wearing only a hospital gown. They lethal dose was administered and it was over. He was covered with a second sheet and wheeled out to an ambulance. The "audience" that had been watching through a pane glass window once drawn by a curtain, filled out mumbling this or that.

    I sat there, in front of the TV, pale white. In shock. Numb and hurting. Emotionally drained. I could not wrap my head around the fact that strangers to this man had taken his life regardless of his crime. It sickened me and I became ill. He was gone. Dead. Would I accept the consensus that "he took a life and deserved to die?" No, I just couldn't accept that. If he had in fact, and it appeared he had killed this child, who are "we" to in turn kill him? It made no sense to me. What he deserves is subjective. I would accept life in confinement with hard work. Build roads, railroad tracks, the chain gang. Punishment to the nth degree ... but death? When the judicial system can bring life into the world then MAYBE they can take it away but until then don't select who can live and who cannot due to a crime regardless of its magnitude. We have no idea what transpires in the minds of those who carry out such horrendous crimes. We may never know but simply taking their live makes entirely no sense to me.

    Thank you for posting his letter, Pam. I hope you are well.

    1. I almost couldn't ge through your description of the execution as it is so painful to read and know that is exactly what the State of MS did to my son. He did not deserve to die and as he told Pamela, we have to "make them care". I know that Matt did not think that his last letters to everyone would be made so public, but I think he would be pleased. What better way to start this campaign to stop legalized murder in the US and the world? Innocent men like Matt are dying and somehow we have to stop it. I agree that there should be a just punishment for horrendous crimes but the "justice" system is so broken that there is no fair way to hand out the "ultimate punishment". You can't take it back. Thank you Pam for being Matt's friend.

  4. Susan, Lisa and Marina:
    Thank you for posting on my blog. I hope that in some small way I can "make them care." Or at least open their eyes to something that is for the most part veiled in secrecy.
    Yes, people can be cruel. I remember reading your post on the dailybeast, Susan, and I was just totally shocked at what people said. Yes, people are entitled to their opinions, but I can't figure out why the cruel are the ones with the loudest voices?


Comments are welcome and appreciated!