Sister Helen Prejean to Speak at SJU

Friday, November 9, 2018

by Brittany Baronski

Sister Helen Prejean, a passionate opponent of capital punishment who became famous when her book “Dead Man Walking” was turned into a1995 movie, will share her continued passion for the work with the Saint Joseph’s University community in a campus lecture on Wednesday, Nov. 14. (The event will be livestreamed, starting at 7 p.m., at

Sr. Prejean’s book was a sensation in the ‘90s, highlighting the inhumanity and inequities of the death penalty for the larger culture. In the years since, she has been traveling to schools, churches, colleges and conferences all over the United States to speak about the issue. Over time others have joined her, including author Bryan Stevenson (“Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption”) and Pope Francis, who in August ruled the death penalty unacceptable in all cases.

The University has engaged the questions of mass incarceration and the death penalty through the Inside-Out program, which brings together SJU students and adult students who are incarcerated for a class that meets weekly inside a correctional facility. Students who have participated speak of it as life-changing.

“Sr. Helen Prejean’s work is a model of love in action, and her work with people experiencing incarceration and sentenced to the death penalty serves as a model for Catholics everywhere,” said Ann Green, Ph.D., professor of English and an instructor in the Inside-Out course. 

“Teaching in the Inside-Out program has made me aware of the many walls designed to keep prisoners separated from the rest of society,” Green added. “Sr. Helen’s lifetime of work has pushed us to think critically about the human costs of mass incarceration.” 

Sr. Prejean’s talk, titled “Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues,” will be held 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the Chapel of Saint Joseph. It is sponsored by the Faith-Justice Institute’s Joseph William and Madeline Eberle Klein Fund, which offers educational events aimed at addressing greater inclusion of marginalized populations in the Catholic Church. The fund also sponsored the Sept. 12 talk by Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of the Homeboy Ministries in Los Angeles.  

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