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Joshua Puckett & Conservative Illusions…

Josh Puckett has spent the past 16 yrs in the Michigan state prison system on a life sentence for what I call “Hi-Batry.” That’s a catch-all Southern phrase some of us employ to explain the “crime of “snatching shit from a flying goose’s ass.”  There ain’t no better way to explain it…

Joshua Puckett (34)...

Josh was the product of two Detroit-area girlfriends who, with the aid of a male donor, decided to birth and raise him. His mother later split from her partner and his bio-father got custody out in Seattle.

His father soon died of AIDS, and Joshua moved back to the Detroit area and his mother and her new partner.  The women were soon gunned down by a homophobic neighbor in a notorious hate-crime case.

Joshua’s life at 14 went downhill from there: grandparents and foster homes ill-suited to deal with such trauma, state custody and eventually the streets.

Small wonder that he “chose” to join with lumpen gangbangers at 17.  How ignorant and f***ing predictable…

His life slid into the abyss on November 9th, 1995. Several of his new friends decided to drive into Detroit to shoot up an old abandoned building tagged with the grafitti of another gang. Josh drove a second car.

As his group approached the area, they heard gunshots and split. Members of the other car had apparently shot up the building, also hitting a nearby car killing an innocent 12-yr-old girl, Angel Lawrence.

Joshua was soon arrested by the gang squad.  After learning that a child was shot and would probably die, he gave the police his complete cooperation. He was designated as a witness and released.

Later refusing to testify and refusing a plea deal, he was arrested himself and effectively charged with being an accessory in the murder.

More innocent times...

His limited involvement was not in dispute, his level of “cooperation” was. He was convicted at trial along with the shooter and (given Michigan’s mandatory system) was also sentenced to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole.

While the law specifies that an individual cannot be punished for exercising their rights (to silence, trial, etc.), in fact, failure to cooperate with the prosecution carries with it reactionary and draconian punishment.

The judge, Thomas Jackson, memorialized the “fix” by quoting at sentencing, “…I do recall that prior to the trial in this case there were some offers that were made to Mr. Puckett, that he didn’t accept, [otherwise] it would certainly have been different [sentence] from this…”

Joshua has since filed appeals and commutation requests. Fat chance.

To his credit, Joshua has dedicated his limited existence to the education of his fellow prisoners and, in memoriam to his parents,  co-founding a Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender (LGBT) organization entitled Prisoners Advocating for Gay and Lesbian Equality (PAGLE). He cites that close to 20% of Michigan prisoners are gay.

As a long-term prisoner myself and a doctor of psychology (PsyD), I’ve found that there are basically two kinds of prisoners–much as there are two kinds of police, politicians, and people in general–those who have some measure of social consciousness, and those who are self-centered, ultra-conservative individualists.

Those who tout pathological measures of “individualism,” praise its ideals.  They are, in fact, in a fixated, infantile cycle of dysfunctional, dog-eat-dog alienation.  Either extreme is dysfunctional and destructive of a free society.

Many prisoners embrace punitively disciplined and authoritarian conservatism as the faux ideal of private profiteers (capital-business over “politicians”).  This by itself is as inevitable as traumatized youth joining the local “family” gang.  Personal gods, power and greed is not a substitute for social consciousness and universal sharing and caring.

Rick Snyder's Bible...

Conservative shills, for instance, like Michigan’s former governor John Engler, a leader of ALEC and their hand-picked successor, Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI)–who made his business-bones stripping American workers and exporting jobs to China–are well on their way to further personal wealth thru the impoverishment of Michigan.

The state prison system is The Miner’s Canary in this private profit scheme…  When prisoners have a conversion to social consciousness, their road to true freedom will have been begun.

As bad as “politicians” may be, they are only pale caricatures beside those whose business schemes designate their own personal profit, private privileges, and socio-political power (bribing politicians thru a vast assortment of means included).

I believe that at some level, men and women like Joshua Puckett–as with the returning veterans from Vietnam in a former cultural-political revolutionary period–will fully realize this and become the leadership cadre of a free society…not one of private profit.

Of course, first, they have to find and relink with that child they once were…

Dr. Publico

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