by Elizabeth LeFevre, US Catholic
20 years ago marked the publishing of an influential and inspiring book: Sister Helen Prejean’s Dead Man Walking, which documents Prejean’s experiences with a death row inmate that took place 30 years ago. Prejean became a pen pal for a man on death row in Louisiana, eventually meeting him in person, becoming his spiritual advisor, and spending his final hours with him before witnessing his execution in 1984.
In 1995 the book was made into a film, with Susan Sarandon winning an Oscar for best actress for her portrayal of Prejean. Both the book and the movie have served as a testament to Prejean’s ongoing, never-ceasing work against the death penalty.
And yet 20 years later, 30 years after the beginning of Prejean’s work at the forefront against capital punishment, the United States remains the only industrialized nation with capital punishment. And despite the fact that more and more states—most recently, Maryland—are abolishing the death penalty, Stateline reports this week that other states are enacting measures that will speed up the execution process…