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PeopleSpot > Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean

As a nun serving the poor population of New Orleans, Sister Helen Prejean began her prison ministry in 1981. She became pen pals with a man convicted of murdering two teenagers and served as his spiritual advisor. She turned her experiences into an award-winning book, "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States." The book was adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie in 1995 by director Tim Robbins. An opera version of the book opened at the San Francisco Opera in October 2000.

A noted death penalty abolitionist, Prejean headed the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty from 1993 to 1995. She founded Moratorium 2000 in 1999, a petition drive that has since expanded into a National Education campaign dubbed The Moratorium Campaign. Prejean has received numerous awards for her work and is a three-time Nobel Peace Prize nominee.




"The death penalty is a poor person's issue," Prejean said at a speech in Albany, N.Y., in 1995. "After all the rhetoric that goes on in the legislative assemblies, in the end, when the deck is cast out, it is the poor who are selected to die in this country."



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