Friday, September 12, 2008

Micki Dickoff and her JOH film Step by Step

Micki Dickoff is a brilliant filmmaker. This wise and warm woman has dedicated her life and her art - to helping others. Her films on AIDS were among the very first to address that epidemic. While that may seem passe today, one must remember that at one time AIDS was spoken about only in whispers.

Since proving that her friend, Sonia Jacobs had been wrongfully convicted of a crime she absolutely did not commit and thus freeing her from Death Row, Micki has been a tireless advocate for ending the death penalty. Micki brought her friend Sonia to the Indiana Journey of Hope. Micki wanted to do a documentary about ‘Sunny’ and felt the Journey would be the perfect setting to do it. With the film that Micki shot, she was able to produce a documentary for the Journey call “Not in our Name”.

Micki brought a professional film crew to document the 1998 Texas Journey of Hope. With over 100 hours of film taken, Micki began to weave together a masterful film piece, “Step By Step” A Journey of Hope. The film has been shown many times by now.

A Journey of Hope


“If your child was murdered, you’d want the killer executed,” is the argument made by death penalty supporters calculated to stop the debate in its tracks. Step by Step takes viewers on an emotional journey of hope with murder victims’ family members on their 17 day march through the state of Texas trying to change hearts and minds with messages of forgiveness, reconciliation and appropriate alternatives to the death penalty. Their viewpoint, formed out of personal grief and loss, is difficult to dismiss even by the most ardent advocates of execution.

Members of the Journey tell their heart wrenching stories at each stop along the way, in the streets and at rallies, in churches and schools, at vigils and protests outside the death chamber, and in debates with death penalty supporters. The voices of Journey participants compel listeners to reexamine their views about the death penalty at a gut level, faced by people who have suffered the unimaginable and yet believe that killing and vengeance are never the answer. This feature-length documentary provides a provocative look into the heart of the death penalty debate, featuring the stories told by: Bill Pelke, whose grandmother was murdered by a 15-year old girl who became the youngest female on death row; Marietta Jaeger Lane whose seven-year old daughter was kidnapped and murdered; George White who was wrongfully accused of his wife’s murder; SueZann Bosler who was attacked and nearly killed by the man who stabbed her father to death; and, Ron Carlson, whose sister was murdered by Karla Faye Tucker.

The Journey also embraces the families of people on death row and death row survivors who were compelled to become activists: Tina Tafero whose father Jesse was executed for a crime he did not commit; Lois and Ken Robison who tried to get help for their mentally ill son before he killed five people and was executed by the State of Texas; Barbara Lewis whose son is in imminent danger of execution in Delaware; and Randall Dale Adams and Sunny Jacobs, innocent of their crimes, who survived death row to tell their unique stories.

Sister Helen Prejean joins the Journey as spiritual advisor and challenges us to place a greater value on human life than answering killing with more killing. Singer/songwriter Steve Earle, a Texas native, also marches with the Journey as an activist, raising his voice in song that provides an evocative background for the stories being told.

Step by Step: A Journey of Hope takes the death penalty debate to another level, giving us all a different way to look at justice and punishment, forgiveness and retribution and the value of life over death in our search for ways to end the cycle of violence.


dudleysharp said...

Re: Sunny Jacobs

"The concept of "innocence" is cheapened when used to describe Jacobs, whose guilt is supported not only by her own plea, but more importantly the actual facts surrounding her case."

"The Jacobs case caught my attention a few years ago and I have spent hundreds of hours reading trial transcripts and appellate decisions, listening to tape recordings of Jacobs's questioning and conducting extensive interviews with several of those involved with the case. After such scrutiny, the claim of "exoneration" made by the eponymous play ("The Exonerated") simply fails."

From: The Myth Of Innocence
published in the Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology - March 31, 2005
Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago, Illinois

Bill Pelke said...

If you knew Sunny like I know Sunny you would know that she is incapable of killing anyone. She is a warm, tender, compassionate, and loving human being.

She is a special child of God and the state of Florida owes her much more than an apology.

Josh, you are wrong about Sunny

Peace, Bill

Bill Pelke said...

I am sorry about the last post. I thought it was Josh, but it was my friend Dudley Sharp. Dudley, I am sorry but you are wrong about Sunny.

I know you also felt that Karla Faye Tucker was faking her conversion experience. You were wrong about Karla and you are wrong about Sunny.



dudleysharp said...


I defer to Josh Marquis on Sunny Jacobs. Those were his comments which I relayed. If I recall correctly, Josh read all the transcripts and listened to the audio confession. I left the link so that folks could read his review.

Regarding, Karla Faye, my conclusion was that the relity of her conversion was between her and God. I never concluded her conversion was false. That is not my conclusion to make.

I read her testimony from the trial transcripts, where she concluded that she could make anyone believe her lies because she was such a good actress. Some of the important issues about her childhood were either made up or could not be confirmed.

I sincerely hope that everyone has the opportunity to reconcile with God before their deaths.

In the US, murderers sentenced to death, have about 10 years to prepare for their deaths. Their murder victims, on the other hand, had that not done so before, just have moments of horror and pain, within which to bring about such reconciliation. Of course, many vicitms have no moment, at all.