Matt Erickson, a longtime member of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP), recently sent out a very moving email entitled “A friend of mine is about to be put to death,” the majority of which I’ve copied below:
I’ve been corresponding with a Mississippi death row inmate named Matthew Puckett since 2006. He wrote to PCAP requesting any sort of support he could get in terms of helping his fiction writing. I told him to send me some stuff to critique and we’ve gone back and forth every so often since then. Of the course of 5-6 years we’ve become relatively good friends, keeping each other updated on our lives – despite the stagnant nature of his situation, he was a good enough writer to make it plenty vivid, and he was always respectful, not asking intrusive questions about my private life, but rather just showing genuine interest in knowing someone.
He’s the only one like this I’ve been writing to; you won’t get an e-mail like this from me ever again.
He always wrote more than I did and it seems I could delay responding for infinite reasons: doing the dishes, getting an oil change, going to the movies, etc. A couple weeks ago I received a letter from him and left it unopened, because I was “busy” – and now I remember that instead of reading and responding to his letter, I spent most of last weekend organizing my iTunes music.
I finally read the letter this morning and learned that Matt is scheduled to be executed on March 20th, the day we are celebrating the opening of the [17th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners]. I had no idea the date was so soon – I thought he had described it as years off – and I’m guessing he didn’t know it was so soon either. His best friend was executed February 8th – after a last minute reversal, then re-reversal – and says the state is really on the rampage now.
Anyway, he told me about this page his mom created: http://www.change.org/petitions/save-matt-puckett-stop-an-innocent-man-from-being-executed
If you could all go there, it takes like 5 seconds. Maybe he could get 5,000 signatures. Maybe it doesn’t matter in terms of stopping this from happening, but it’s what he asked me to do and now I’m asking you to do it if you think he shouldn’t be killed on March 20th. The page says he’s innocent. Matt and I haven’t talked about his crime or case in correspondence, and I haven’t pried. But I don’t believe in killing people or throwing people in the garbage. And he has described his situation as like a speeding car heading toward a cliff, and he’s pumping his brakes however he can.
Even if you don’t do it, I wanted you all to know about this man. If you want to know more, please read the letter I’ve attached (Please let me know if you can’t open or read it and I’ll try re-sending).
If anyone would like to do more than sign the petition, let me know. If anyone can THINK of anything we can do, please let me know. If you want to write to him:
Larry Matthew Puckett
Parchman, MS 38738
Despite my strong commitment to activism, I am often tempted to pass over online petitions because they feel so far removed from the cause itself, but I urge you not to ignore the plea that Mary Puckett’s petition is making for her son Matt’s life. Please sign the petition, and if you have a moment, write a letter to Matt Puckett. People in prison need to know that folks in the outside world, even those who do not know them personally, recognize their humanity and think that their lives have value.
Matt Puckett, you and your family are in my thoughts today. You are not forgotten.