University to host death penalty awareness day

University to host death penalty awareness day

Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle were on death row for many years before they were both exonerated for the crimes they were accused of committing.

They will share their experiences as part of a Death Penalty Awareness Day hosted by the University’s School of Legal Studies on Thursday, 7 May 2009.

Sunny Jacobs was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the shooting of two police officers in Florida in 1976. In spite of evidence of his innocence, her partner, Jesse Tafero, was executed by electric chair and it took 17 years for Sunny to be released.

Peter Pringle was wrongfully convicted of killing a police officer in Ireland in 1980 and sentenced to death. He was exonerated in 1995. Since his case it has been written into the Irish Constitution that the Death Penalty may never be reinstated.

All of the speakers at the one-day conference have been directly involved with issues of capital punishment. They also include Julian Killingley, who is professor of American Public Law at Birmingham City University and Jan Arriens, who is the founder of LifeLines which supports and befriends prisoners on Death Row in the United States through letter writing.

Third year Law student Carmel Walsh, 38, from Dudley, has organised the event. She said: “One year ago I invited Nick Yarris to the university to speak to students and staff about his experiences and his eventual exoneration from death row. The success of that event has prompted me to organise this larger conference, bringing in more speakers from different areas relating to the issue of capital punishment. The subject of this conference will also be the administration of the death penalty, with particular focus on the USA. This event will raise awareness and also the profile of the many issues surrounding capital punishment and generate debate surrounding the ethics of this subject.”

The conference will be held at Wolverhampton City Campus in room MC001 and will start at 10.15am and finish at 4.30pm. The event is free of charge and open to the public.

Anyone who would like to attend the event, must book a place with Carmel Walsh via e-mail at

Please note, this event is restricted to over 15s only as some people may find some of the material discussed at this conference upsetting.

Further information

Picture: Peter Pringle and Sunny Jacobs

Members of the press are welcome to attend the conference on Thursday, 7 May 2009. Sunny Jacobs and Peter Pringle will speak at 10.40am and there will be an opportunity to interview them after their lecture at 12.15pm. If you would like to attend, please contact Vickie Woodward in the Media Relations Office on 01902 322736 or 07973 335112 to arrange.

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