In her address to students, faculty and staff, Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J., shared her experiences as a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty. Her talk, “Deadman Walking: The Journey Continues,” traced her early years as a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph to her current work educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners.
After spending her first years with the Congregation teaching religion to junior high school students, she realized that being on the side of poor people is an essential part of the Gospel and moved into the St. Thomas Housing Project in New Orleans. She worked at Hope House from 1984 to 1986. During this time, she was asked to correspond with a death row inmate, Patrick Sonnier, at Angola. She agreed and became his spiritual adviser. After witnessing his execution, she wrote a book about the experience. The result was Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. The book became a movie, an opera and a play for high schools and colleges.
Sister Helen has accompanied six men to their deaths. In doing so, she began to suspect that some of those executed were not guilty. This realization inspired her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions. She is presently at work on another book, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey.
After her talk, Sr. Helen Prejean did a book signing for her two books.
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Click here to visit Sr. Helen Prejean’s website.