ColumnistsVogue Williams

I feel life in jail is worse than the death penalty

jail prison bar
jail prison bar

I’m about to start filming the latest show in my series for RTE, Vogue Does – Wild Girls.

This part of the series follows me while I investigate women who have found themselves on the wrong side of the law.

I will be spending a few days at a prison boot camp in Florida and then I am going to meet a woman I have been writing to who is on death row.

It really got me thinking about death row and my feelings on execution.

The lady I’m meeting is only 32.  They don’t really execute women on death row in Florida anymore, but she will still spend the rest of her life wondering when she will be executed.

She murdered her ex-husband’s new partner, so of course I think she should pay a price for taking a life, but I don’t think she should be paying for it with her own life.

I don’t think execution should be punishment for any crime. It isn’t because I don’t think people should pay the ultimate price for what they’ve done; I just feel that spending the rest of your life in jail is a much worse punishment.

Prisoners on death row spend 23 hours a day alone in their cells and that is how the lady I’m meeting will live out the next 50 or so years of her life.

She will have nothing to do but regret and think about what she has done.

In some cases, people placed on death row have actually been found innocent of the crime and later released.

I read an amazing story of a couple who were both put on death row and subsequently released as they were eventually found to be innocent.

Sunny Jacobs was found guilty of killing two police officers and she was placed on death row in Florida. Peter Pringle was found guilty of murdering two gardai and sentenced to death. They were both the victims of wrongful convictions, Sunny spending 17 years of her life on death row and Peter 15.

Sunny began campaigning against the death penalty and it was at one of her talks that she met Peter. They have now rebuilt their lives together and were married in New York.

Sunny was wrongfully accused along with her then partner and they were sentenced to death.

Her partner was executed and she continued her life on death row, leaving two young children on the outside world.

Peter was one of the last people in Ireland to be sentenced to death in the 1980s and I was actually shocked to find out that Ireland even had the death penalty.

I do feel that the sentences for murder in Ireland are quite lenient, so although I don’t agree with the death penalty, I do agree with a life sentence that actually means life.

I don’t know how I’m going to feel when I meet the girl on death row, but I am bursting with questions. I don’t understand how a seemingly normal person can kill someone and find themselves on death row.