My invitation to you

The death penalty is one of the great moral issues facing our country, yet most people rarely think about it and very few of us take the time to delve deeply enough into this issue to be able to make an informed decision about it. This website is my invitation to you to take that time, to learn, to explore and to reflect. I hope you will accept my invitation.

Dead Man Walking 20th Anniversary

The #1 bestseller by Sister Helen Prejean With a new preface by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and new afterwords by the author, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins.

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A Life Against Death: The Work of Sister Helen

A short documentary by Michelle Bagoyo.

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Hear Sister Helen talk...

Sister Helen recently addressed a gathering of public defenders in San Francisco. Listen and watch on Youtube. Her talk starts 29 minutes into the video, following opening remarks from District Attorney George Gascon, Rabbi Ryan Bauer and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

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Available now...

The 20th anniversary edition of Dead Man Walking.

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Talking about, life, death & social justice

About Sister Helen

Sister Helen Prejean with Robert Lee Willie, 1984 (Photo: Gary Hunter of State-Times and Morning Advocate)

Sister Helen is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. She spent her first years with the Sisters teaching religion to junior high school students. Realizing that being on the side of poor people is an essential part of the Gospel, she moved into the St. Thomas Housing Project in New Orleans and worked at Hope House from 1984 – 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.

Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners. She 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, which was released by Random House in December of 2004.

She is presently at work on another book, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey.

Read a more extensive biography or view Sister Helen’s awards and honors.


Ministry Against the Death Penalty

Sister Helen is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph. The Congregation has taken a public stance against capital punishment. Its Peace and Justice Committee supports and sponsors programs, prayer vigils, and actions aimed at abolishing the death penalty, while its Ministry Against the Death Penalty (MADP), which originated through the work of Sister Helen, recognizes the dignity of all people and fosters creative, reflective and educational programs that awaken hearts and minds, inspire social change, and strengthen our democracy’s commitment to human rights.

The MADP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization encompassing the work of Sister Helen and her office in New Orleans, the Catholic Mobilizing Network, the Dead Man Walking School Theatre Project (the “Play Project”) and a variety of special projects based at DePaul University in Chicago.


An invitation to join my online community

facebook_256The Sisters of St Joseph have been my community for all my adult life, first with the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille and then in the recently organized Congregation of St. Joseph. These days, I have an additional community, an online one.

I invite you to join me in this online community. You’ll find me hanging out on Facebook and you can also follow my tweets on Twitter. I share news about developments in the death penalty, my own thoughts about the death penalty and the state of justice and compassion in our society, feedback from talks I give around the country, photos and other tidbits.

Please join me there!

- Sister Helen