Last updated on: 8/10/2018 | Author: ProCon.org

Helen Prejean, MA Biography

Title:
Anti-Death Penalty Activist and Catholic Nun of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille
Position:
Con to the question "Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?"
Reasoning:

“I say in my talks that the death penalty epitomizes the deepest wounds in our society, which are militarism, poverty, and racism! We’ve got a social problem, so we send in the Marines. We target the enemy, dehumanize, terminate him. It’s that same war-making spirit that makes the death penalty…

We are just beginning to see a thaw in a huge glacier that we’ve been locked into with the death penalty since 1976. At least six states have initiatives for a moratorium, most recently in Illinois. Polls show that support is dropping. It’s down to sixty-one percent from seventy-five percent. In 1999 it dropped five percent.

I think people are more aware of the eighty-seven innocent people that have now come off of Death Row, that the supposed best criminal justice system in the world has a lot of flaws in it. I think it’s raised consciousness about the death penalty, and how we don’t need it.”

“One Woman Talking: An Interview With Sister Helen Prejean,” Fellowship of Reconciliation website, May-June 2000

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Catholic Nun, Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, 1957-present
  • Prision Ministry, 1981-present
  • Honorary Cahir, Moratorium Campaign
  • Former Board Member, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, 1985-1995
  • Author of Dead Man Walking (1993) which became a film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn
  • Member, Amnesty International
  • Honorary member, Murder Victim Families for Reconciliation
  • Former Religious Education Director, St. Frances Cabrini Parish, New Orleans
  • Former junior and senior high school teacher
Education:
  • MA, Religious Education, St. Paul’s University, 1973
  • BA, English and Education, St. Mary’s Dominican College, 1962
Other:
  • Recipient of dozens of awards and honorary degrees from all over the world
Quoted in:
  1. Should the Death Penalty Be Allowed?
  2. Does a Person's Income Level Affect the Likelihood of Receiving the Death Penalty?