Former ‘death row’ inmates to give lecture at Ely Cathedral

Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle

Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle - Credit: Archant

A LECTURE about the wrongs of the death penalty is to be given by two former death row inmates at Ely Cathedral next month.

On October 10, which is World Day against the Death Penalty, a lecture is being given by Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs, both victims of wrongful convictions who faced the death penalty for crimes they did not commit.

In 1976, Sunny was placed on death row in Florida for the murder of two police officers. She served 17 years, five of them in solitary confinement. Peter was sentenced to death in Ireland in 1980 for the murder of two officers of the Irish police force. He served 15 years.

Both were eventually exonerated and released and met in 1998 in Ireland when Sunny

gave a talk at an Amnesty International event in Galway. They married in New York in 2011.

Sunny was 28-years-old when she was imprisoned, and 45 when she was released. On how she felt when set free she says: “I had to learn how to make a living, be a mother and simply be a person again. It was very difficult, but at the same time I wanted to get past it.

“I wouldn’t say my experience haunts me, but it’s always there. Everyone gets challenged in life and you can either spend the rest of your life looking backwards, or you can make a decision to keep going. That’s the choice I made.”

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Similarly, Peter also had many adjustments to make outside prison: “The world had changed in 15 years. In Ireland, there was a new currency I had to learn to use. I’d never been in a supermarket before and I was amazed by the idea of a cashpoint. There were so many weird things I had to get used to.”

Now the couple live a simple country life in the west of Ireland, but they continue to campaign against the death penalty.

Sunny and Peter will talk in Ely Cathedral’s south transept at 7.30 pm about their experiences on death row, and the personal journeys they have made, separately and together, since they were released.