Death penalty abolition advocate and author Sister Helen Prejean to lecture at Coe

Extra: Rod Pritchard, Director of Marketing and Public Relations
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2016-03-31 09:09:39 - General

Sister Helen Prejean
Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean, a leading national advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, will speak at Coe College on Thursday, April 7, beginning at 7 p.m. in Cherry Auditorium. Prejean, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph's in New Orleans, has been influential in changing the views of the Catholic Church on state executions. During the lecture, Prejean will discuss her ministerial work and how it has shaped her current mission. The event is free and open to the public, with a reception and book signing to follow.

In 1981, Prejean began corresponding with Patrick Sonnier, a death row inmate convicted of killing two teenagers. Prejean became Sonnier's spiritual advisor and visited with him at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, which opened her eyes to the execution process. Prejean recounted her experiences in the best-selling 1994 book, "Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States," which later became a movie, an opera and a play.

Today, Prejean spends time as an activist for abolishing the death penalty and counseling death row prisoners. She published a second book, "The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions" in 2004, and she is currently writing a third book.

In addition to her visit to Coe, Prejean will be speaking at the University of Iowa on April 8. The lectures are sponsored by the University of Iowa's Just Living Theme Semester, the University of Iowa's Center for Human Rights, and Coe College.