‘Killer Poet’ Norman Porter denied medical parole during COVID-19 crisis

BOSTON — When he was younger, Norman Porter never seemed to stay behind bars very long.

In his criminal career, Porter managed to escape from jail and prison three times. One of those escapes lasted 20 years.

But, at 80 years old, Norman Porter’s luck seems to have run out.

On Wednesday, State Public Safety Commissioner Carol Mici denied Porter’s request for medical parole. That decision coming only five months after the Massachusetts Parole Board denied him parole, for the third time.

Norman Porter was one of many inmates seeking protection against the spreading COVID-19 pandemic.

Porter’s attorney appealed for a medical parole on the grounds that Porter’s heart and lung problems made him vulnerable.

But in a seven-page decision, Commissioner Mici made clear she didn’t think Porter was sick enough to release. Nor did she think he was rehabilitated.

“I acknowledge that Mr. Porter suffers from various medical conditions, I do not find that his is terminally ill or permanently incapacitated,” Mici wrote. “I do not believe that if released Mr. Porter will live and remain at liberty without violating the law.”

Norman Porter’s major crimes date back to the early 1960s.

Porter was convicted for his role in the 1960 murder of Saugus retailer John Pigott during a brutal armed robbery. He was ultimately convicted for his role in the May 1961 murder of Middlesex Jail Master David Robinson, shot to death in a violent jail break.

At the time of the Robinson murder, Porter was awaiting trial for the Pigott murder.

In the 1960s and early 70s, Norman Porter was a model inmate who impressed many seeing prison reform, including Governor Michael Dukakis, who commuted Porter’s life sentence for Robinson’s murder.

But in 1985, sensing there would be no Governor’s Pardon for the Pigott killing, Norman Porter failed to come back from his prison furlough. Massachusetts State Police found Porter, 20 years later, in Chicago, where he lived a double life as JJ Jameson, a local activist and poet.

Dottie Johnson is victim Jackie Pigott’s first cousin. She has been fighting to keep Porter behind bars for decades.

Johnson is thrilled Porter’s medical parole has been denied.

"I think it’s a victory for all of the victims’ families of Porter, a two time convicted murderer,” Johnson told me. “None of his illnesses are terminal and I’d say it’s a victory for all of the families that are involved.”

News that Porter was denied medical parole was also welcomed by the family of Jail Master Robinson.

The Robinson family has fought against Porter’s release at every parole hearing.

“He tries to drive a narrative and I think he underestimates the intelligence of people," said Jeffrey Robinson, grand nephew of Porter’s victim, David Robinson. “I think he’s going to think we’ll forget some of the things he said. And we’ll forget what he did. That’s not the case.”

Norman Porter can reapply for Parole again in January 2022.