It marked one of the most unusual and controversial criminal cases of the late 20th and early 21st centuries: in 1960, Norman Porter participated in a gruesome murder during a convenience store hold-up in Massachusetts. Porter subsequently spent 25 years in prison, and then - after authorities refused to commute his sentence - somehow managed to escape (killing a courthouse employee in the process) and spent another 20 years on the lam. By the mid-2000s, Porter had established another identity for himself as a Chicago-area intellectual named J.J. Jameson - a devout member of the Unitarian church and a well-respected, published poet with a strong foothold in Windy City coffeehouses. Police finally caught up with Porter in 2005 and extradited him back to prison. With her documentary Killer Poet, filmmaker Susan Gray tells Porter's unusual story, and uses it to raise key questions about the ability (or great lack thereof) of prisons to rehabilitate their inmates, and the notion of prison as a place for one to hone one's creative voice.
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