Journey of Hope ... From Violence to Healing
SCADP and the Amnesty International chapter at the University of South Carolina would like to thank Bill Pelke, an internationally famous expert on the death penalty, for coming to tell his remarkable story of forgiveness and healing to an audience of students and community members this Wednesday, October 21, at the University of South Carolina.
Bill is the president and cofounder of the Journey of Hope ... from Violence to Healing and has authored a book by the same name. His story is the subject of three documentaries, and he has appeared on “Good Morning America,” the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” and many other programs. He has been interviewed by NPR, Vatican Radio, and Pacifica. Bill is a board member of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and served as chair from 2004-08. He is also a founding and present board member of Murder Victims Families for Human Rights and an incorporating board member of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, and he serves on the boards of Alaskans Against the Death Penalty and the Journey of Hope. He is a cofounder of the Abolition Action Committee and the annual Fast and Vigil at the US Supreme Court.
In 1985 Bill’s grandmother, Ruth Pelke, was murdered by four ninth grade girls. Paula Cooper, who was fifteen years old at the time of the murder, was deemed to be the ringleader and sentenced to die in the electric chair by the state of Indiana.
Originally supportive of the judge’s decision, Bill went through a spiritual transformation which led to forgiveness and healing. Bill realized the death penalty was not the proper solution and worked successfully to have Cooper’s sentence commuted to 60 years in prison. She is still in prison today, but no longer under the sentence of death. Bill has dedicated his life to abolition of the death penalty.