Dead Man Walking: 20 Years Later

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Twenty years after the publication of her book that inspired a movie, an opera and a play, Sister Helen Prejean, Roman Catholic nun, advocate for abolishing the death penalty, and author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account Of The Death Penalty In The United States, talks about the decline in support for the death penalty and her work to end its use.


Sister Helen Prejean

Comments [14]

juan pena

If you are a believer and your religion teaches there will be a judgement day in the hereafter but you support a death penalty as retribution or rendering justice, aren't you playing God? What is justice? An eye for an eye? Then what do you do with a serial killer since that person can only be killed once? And what kind of "justice" is it when the rich and powerful commit the most horrendous acts and are not even prosecuted - witness, for example, the big tobacco companies who to this day still are poisoning millions even though they knew exactly what they were doing since the 1950's.

If the state uses the death penalty then the state is saying violence is a solution to a problem. Poor example for the state to set for its citizens.

Jun. 20 2013 12:10 AM
Ed from Larchmont

There are at least three reasons why the Church is more vocal about abortion than about capital punishment:

1. In capital punishment it is assumed that the person was fairly tried and found guilty of a terrible crime. The state has the right to take the person's life, the person is not innocent, but argues that the state need not take it but can protect itself in other ways (life imprisonment).

2. Where the person in capital punishment is presumed guilty, the unborn human being has committed no crime at all, is innocent. Killing the innocent is a crime that cries out to heaven for justice, the most serious of crimes.

3. The number of people killed in capital punishment each year in the U.s. is 100? 150? The number of unborn human beings killed is over 1 million, not counting those killed contraceptives, etc.

Jun. 19 2013 08:02 PM

How unscrupulous can you get? First she uses the family victims; citing their understandable frustration that they remain without closure as the appeals process goes on for years even decades, and expressing concern for their prolonged lack of closure as one reason to oppose the death penalty. Then when Brian brings up the fact that Florida is trying to have swifter justice to address that fact, she then resorts to casting aspersions on Floridians for being a southern state that once had slavery. Total irrelevant non sequitor and intellectually dishonest. And Brian not much better in not calling her on it.And her support of legalized abortion on the grounds that pregnancy can be rough on a person belies her professed claim that she opposes killing. How is she allowed to remain a Catholic nun when she undermines the Church by supporting the un- Christ like belief in killing human beings in the womb?

Jun. 19 2013 01:38 PM

To John A - Yes robots indeed! But why do we need humans? Who have morals. How messy.

To John from office. Who is responsible for all these deaths? Women of course. Mothers have been issuing death sentences to all human beings from the beginning of time ...and getting away with it. All the more reason to control them! Again, robots are the solution.

Jun. 19 2013 12:05 PM

Violent crime is not deterred by the death penalty.
Violent crime is deterred by armed victims.
See Lott, John "More Guns Less Crime"

Jun. 19 2013 11:05 AM

In the 20th Century there were only 18 million murders committed by private individuals.
Yet governments killed up to 300 million of their own people.
The death penalty has been overused.
Libertarians have therefore concluded that governments should not be entrusted to administer the death penalty.

Jun. 19 2013 11:03 AM
Jennifer from Flushing

My cousin was murdered in 1984. Her killer is in prison for life. If he was executed, it would not heal the wounds and hurt my family carries to this day. Eye for an eye is why this world is as messed up as it is. While I don't forgive him, killing him would not have brought us any peace.

Jun. 19 2013 11:01 AM
john from office

So no one is ever guilty? At all. I guess people kill themselves.

Jun. 19 2013 10:57 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Two men raped and killed a mother and her two daughters (and nearly killed the father) in CT in 2007. The evidence of the crime is clear. The solution should be as simple as executing the murderers. They deserve no forgiveness. The fact that we can't shut cases like these in a timely, efficient manner is a major failure of our "justice" system.

Jun. 19 2013 10:57 AM
John A

Shhh Peg, else we'll get killer robots. More killer robots, I mean...

Jun. 19 2013 10:55 AM

Hey Ed. U hear that one!!

Jun. 19 2013 10:55 AM
PJ from NJ

The conviction rate is 99% in the US. If you walk in a courtroom innocent or guilty you are screwed. It's a converter belt from the courts to the industrial prison complex. The incarceration rate is the highest per capita in the world. It's either we have the most ill behaved,immoral lawbreakers in the world or something else is going on here.

Jun. 19 2013 10:54 AM

It's morally wrong to ask another human being (the executioner) to administer the punishment.

Jun. 19 2013 10:49 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Wonderful to have a sister on the program. Wonderful to work against the death penalty. What are we doing to stop the other executions in the United States, the execution of the unborn?

The death penalty, if the person is guilty, is not immoral, but the Church is moving more and more strongly against it.

Jun. 19 2013 10:49 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.