21.04.

1939: Catholic Nun Helen Prejean – Leader of the Struggle for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

1939: Catholic Nun Helen Prejean – Leader of the Struggle for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / A Mongolian woman condemned to die of starvation, c. 1913

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 21 April 1939
  • The nun Helen Prejean is a member of the Catholic religious congregation of St. Joseph. She wrote the book Dead Man Walking, about her experiences with prisoners sentenced to death. Dead Man Walking is also a film co-produced and directed by Tim Robbins (the film was shot in 1995) and based on the book. Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn played the leading roles.

Helen Prejean was born on this day in 1939. Today she is known as one of the leading fighters for the abolition of the death penalty.

She was born in Baton Rouge in the U.S. state of Louisiana. She became a Catholic nun in 1957.

Helen Prejean helped one prisoner sentenced to death, and saw the process of execution (during that occasion). She became an advocate of the abolition of death sentences, and even gained power at the national level in the U.S.

She wrote the book Dead Man Walking, about her experiences with prisoners sentenced to death. Dead Man Walking is also a film co-produced and directed by Tim Robbins (the film was shot in 1995) and based on the book.

Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn played the leading roles. Susan Sarandon won an Oscar for her role. There was also a theater performance (which Tim Robbins organized), and an opera based on the book Dead Man Walking.

The nun Helen Prejean was awarded the Pacem in Terris Award in 1998 (Bl. Mother Teresa, Archbishop Hélder Câmara, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Lech Walesa also received this award). Helen Prejean is a member of the Catholic religious congregation of St. Joseph.

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