Carolyn Layton’s Analysis of Future Prospects

Among the thousands of anonymous documents which the State Department and FBI recovered in Jonestown after November 18 was an unsigned, undated memo entitled “Analysis of Future Prospects.” It proposes and discusses a variety of options for the people of Jonestown: organizing the return of everyone back to the United States; facilitating the return of those people who express a desire to return, but leaving the balance of the community intact; migrating – either en masse or as a small group – to another country like Cuba; and taking a “final stand.”

There are numerous references to death throughout the five-page document, beyond the ultimate option. Some are almost casual, indicating how deeply embedded the subject was in general conversation, and how inured the people of Jonestown had become to the prospect of self-destruction. For example, in discussing whether their own actions “in playing brinkmanship (which I agree we have to constantly do)” might lead Embassy consul Richard McCoy to involve the “full force” of the U.S. against them, the writer says, “If we decide to die, then of course that will not matter because if [it] would not hurt us historically since he is a real pig anyway.”

Although there are a couple of references to “JJ,” the memo is addressed in the second person and is undoubtedly directed to Jim Jones. Equally as certain is the writer: Few people would have been able to write as strategically, frankly, and critically as Carolyn Layton, Jones’ most trusted aide.

There are other clues of Carolyn Layton’s authorship as well.

  • The writer speaks of witnessing Jones’ reaction when “MJ [Marceline Jones] gets totally freaked out,” not an incident the leadership would show to the community at large.
  • Most other Temple memos referring to Annie Moore call her by her full name, or at least “Annie M.” Her sister – Carolyn Layton – would not make that full reference, and doesn’t.
  • Probably most conclusive is the reference to Carolyn Layton’s son, Kimo. On page 5, in the discussion of going to Cuba, the memo reads: “One alternative … is you and the children going to Cuba.… We could try to hold the project together here and I would hope that I could see Kimo every now and then and perhaps he could visit here too with me.”

More uncertain is the date of the memo. There are references to the pressures brought against Jim Jones in the Stoen custody case, but those had existed for a year prior to November 1978. The fact that it includes the notation “I am 33” means that it was written after July 13, 1978, Carolyn’s 33rd birthday. However, given the urgency – bordering on desperation – of the memo’s tone, and the specificity of the issues to consider in deciding “how are we going to do it” – “How would you convince Stephan [Jones], or would you?” – it seems more likely that Carolyn wrote it weeks rather than months before November 18.

A 2009 commentary on this memo appears here.

Analysis of Future Prospects, RYMUR 89-4286-X-3-e, pp. 32a-32e
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Last modified on March 21st, 2014.
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