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Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean
4,000 people were released from federal prisons on home confinement during the height of the pandemic. Unless President Joe Biden acts, they will all be forced to report back to prison soon despite successful reintegration into their communities over the past year.
Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean
"I believe that the death penalty should absolutely not be a punishment delivered by the State of Florida, or for that matter, neither any place in the United States or the world."
Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean
Public defender agencies should be a part of any conversation about public safety. That starts with full and adequate funding for legal representation as well as wrap-around services to address root circumstances that often lead people into the criminal justice system.
Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean
After a unanimous vote by lawmakers, Sierra Leone has become the 23rd African nation to abolish the death penalty:
Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean
I applaud the recent decision by Attorney General Merrick Garland to halt federal executions. This is a very welcome first step, but it is not sufficient. I’ll explain why.

After 17 years without a federal execution, the Trump administration rushed through 13 executions in its final year. Why, after such a long time without a federal execution, would Trump’s AG, William Barr, order 13 deaths? Because, as Chief Prosecutor, he had the power to do so.

No executions happen unless a prosecutor decides to seek death. The Supreme Court, in its 1976 Gregg decision that reinstated the death penalty, set up the legal architecture that way. From the trial level on up, if a prosecutor decides not to seek death, nobody dies.

This is why, at its very core, the administration of death in the US is and will always be capricious and flawed. And it’s a core reason why a moratorium on federal executions can never be enough. Much more is needed.

The current federal moratorium was issued “pending review of policies and procedures” including 3 “weighty concerns” that reveal the troubling administration of death in the states as well as at the federal level: arbitrariness in application; disparate impact on people of color; and the troubling number of exonerations.

Since 1977 a whopping 185 wrongly-convicted people have been fortunate enough to prove the mistakes that sent them to death row and to win their freedom. Since 1976, for every 9 people executed, one death-row prisoner was exonerated. Talk about a broken system!

The flaws revealed in the federal death penalty also exist at the state level, where the self-serving discretion of politically-driven prosecutors could not be more pronounced. A federal moratorium won’t stop state executions, but it might forge a path for them to follow.

And now, at last, we have leadership in the Department of Justice that recognizes just how broken the system is. No, a moratorium alone is not enough. But I couldn’t be more heartened by the thorough investigation of the whole federal death system: policies and procedures.
I’m also heartily encouraged by the comprehensive array of departments and experts mandated to conduct the review: both civil rights and criminal divisions, and the bureau of prisons, which we expect. But, get this, also experienced capital counsel, medical experts and other “relevant stakeholders” including “members of the public as appropriate.”

Who knows? Maybe they’ll listen to citizens like me, who have been researching, writing and speaking out to citizens and lawmakers to persuade them to pull the plug on the entire, government-sanctioned, cruel, broken machinery of death. Stay tuned.
Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean
I’m praying for Rodney Reed and the Reed family this morning. May justice and truth prevail at the evidentiary hearing beginning today.

I remember #TaiChinPreyor executed by the state of Texas on July 27, 2017. He got legal representation during appeals from a disbarred attorney and real estate lawyer who relied on Wikipedia to research TX legal procedures. #EndTheDeathPenalty

During #RodneyReed’s evidentiary hearing today, prosecutors informed the court that time stamps on video footage of the crime scene are incorrect. This only raises further doubt about the accuracy of trial testimony related to time of death and other timeline issues.

Rodney Reed, a Black man convicted for the 1996 killing of a white woman, is seeking a new trial. Lawyers say prosecutors withheld info & cite evidence linking the victim’s fiance.

Research says Black people are ~7x likelier to be wrongfully convicted of murder than white people

I applaud the recent decision by Attorney General Merrick Garland to halt federal executions. This is a very welcome first step, but it is not sufficient. I’ll explain why.

My dear Dad turned 93. Pretty sharp, with some exceptions. The other day he wanted to watch @helenprejean Dead Man Walking but ended up with The Walking Dead. He was disappointed.

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Congratulations to the people of Sierra Leone! ...

Please join me for a (virtual) conversation about restorative justice this Sunday, June 20th at 5:30 pm ET! Tickets are $25 per device and all proceeds will benefit the Dismas House of Vermont. ...

This Earth Day, April 22, 4 pm PST, follow Mary M Clare and Gary Ferguson, authors of the new book Full Ecology, on a virtual adventure in America's Wild to uncover the brilliance and promise of our place in the world. Practical and poetic, scientific and spiritual, this cross-geographical adventure offers a chance to stop, reflect, and re-energize our connections to human nature and rediscover the guiding lights that rest in our relationships.

I will be introducing this event because I share Full Ecology’s interest in returning humans to our deep kinship with nature. A Live Q&A will follow the event.
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I’ll be on #Appeal Live with Rep. @ayannapressley this afternoon to talk about how @potus can quickly and permanently end the federal death penalty. 1 pm ET, streaming live on Twitter and Facebook — hope you’ll join us! ...

We have lost one of the anchors of the movement to abolish the death penalty. Bill Pelke passed away yesterday after suffering a heart attack while shoveling snow at his home in Anchorage, Alaska. I will have more to say soon about Bill’s incredible legacy of anti-death penalty activism and advocacy for murder victims’ families, but for now my thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and fellow activists. This is a profound loss for our movement. ...

Robert Fisher was wounded in Vietnam and received a Purple Heart medal from President Lyndon Johnson. Today, Robert is in his seventies, suffering with PTSD and other mental health conditions, and preparing for his third re-trial after years on Pennsylvania’s death row. #veteransday ...

#veteransday ...

I’m deeply saddened to hear that Justice Ginsburg has passed away. She was a trailblazer in the truest sense. I will always treasure the time I spent with her when the Kennedy Center performed the opera of Dead Man Walking a few years ago. Our nation is the poorer for her loss. ...

I have 10 hardcover copies of Kendi’s deeply rewarding “How to be an Antiracist”. If you would like a copy, donate at least $50 to a bail fund of your choice and send your receipt plus mailing address to rachael@sisterhelen.org. We’ll send a copy to the first 10 people to do. ...

Want to meet me on a Zoom call AND support a great cause? You can even bring along 3 of your friends! Bid now on @Charitybuzz and help @ACLU_SoCal defend and preserve the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and US laws. Search “Sister Helen Prejean” on Charitybuzz.com. Thanks for your support of this incredible organization! ...