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Sonny Jacobs, Stolen Time – Book Review by Sophia Raza

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

Amicus will be publishing a series of reviews and comments on the way capital punishment is presented within the media. Covering books, films, peer-reviewed articles and mainstream news, our work will cover the whole spectrum of public exposure to this violent form of justice. We hope that this will provide some context to the work that we do and raise awareness of the inherent injustices that face ordinary people on death row as well as recommending some good books and films along the way. If you have any questions about the project, the content or about our work then please get in touch at

Sonny Jacobs, Stolen Time – Book review by Sophia Raza

The year is 1976. Sunny Jacobs and her husband Jesse Tafero have just been given a life sentence for murdering two police officers. This is, however, based on a false testimony.

In the book Stolen Time, we explore the injustice, loneliness, confusion, and humiliation that Sunny Jacobs faced while in prison for a crime that she did not commit.

Without revealing too much, this book is, without a doubt, an emotional rollercoaster. Jacobs details the utter devastation that she experienced around this time, with loneliness being a common theme. She even tells us how she waited patiently for a bird to land on a fence outside of her cell, so that she could “make contact with another living thing that didn’t hate [her]”. It certainly is a story where just when you think it can’t possibly get worse, it does. Having said that, there is also great hope when you least expect it. This is what makes the book so inspiring; its unfiltered and raw quality will have you truly hooked from beginning to end. Her ability to remain resilient and never lose hope throughout the turmoil that she faced is extraordinary. She even looks back on some elements of her experience with humour, which made it so refreshing to read.

What I admired in particular about this book was how in detail the story is told. It felt as if I was on the journey alongside Jacobs, experiencing all of the heartache and confusion with her. I also found myself captivated by the variety of people Jacobs met along her journey. Some I grew to love, many I despised. There are also some people that Jacobs happened to connect with so unexpectedly.

An aspect that I found especially brilliant was the way Sunny Jacobs explained that she was only given a tomato seed, and that she decided to get a handful of earth and plant this seed into tomatoes. This really summarises the person that Jacobs is; she was treated as if she was just a seed, but she knew that she was greater than this. Through strong ambition (and a little bit of yoga), she was able to grow into something so much better (a “tomato”, as it were!).

To conclude, this book is tremendously insightful. I learned so much about the injustices that so many people have faced, and still face today, while on death row. I would recommend this book to anyone that needs a bit of inspiration to grow into a stronger version of themselves. Additionally, if you are unfamiliar with Amicus or wish to gain more insight into why we do what we do, this is absolutely the book for you. It definitely has a 10/10 from me.

Key Quote: “After all, I was becoming disembodied myself” (Stolen Time, Sunny Jacobs, page 115)

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