Sister Helen Prejean

Sister Helen Prejean

1939 -

Author of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States, a record of her own account as a counselor to a convicted murderer on Death Row, Sister Helen Prejean is an advocate for the abolition of the death penalty, as well as a poet and author of a second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.


Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Sister Helen Prejean earned her Bachelors degree in English and Education, and then her Masters in Religious Education.

She began her ministry to convicted criminals on Death Row in 1981, serving as spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, convicted murderer of two teenagers. Her experiences lead her to write Dead Man Walking, which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. The book was made into a movie as well as an opera (with music composed by Jake Heggie).

In 2004, her second book, The Death of Innocents, was published, discussing two specific men, whom Sister Helen accompanied to their execution and whom she believes to be innocent.

Sister Helen is also the founder of the group Survive, which provides counseling to the families of the victims of violence.

--Christie Finn

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