Tag Archives: death penalty

Sister Helen Prejean on the death penalty

Sister Helen Prejean

St. Bonaventure University hosted Sr. Helen Prejean’s talk on Nov. 11, 2008 regarding her vocation helping the poor and crusade to abolish capital punishment. Following bio is an 8-part YouTube video of her presentation.

“Sister Helen Prejean was born on April 21, 1939, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille (now known as The Congregation of St. Joseph) in 1957 and received a B.A. in English and Education from St. Mary’s Dominican College, New Orleans in 1962. In 1973, she earned an M.A. in Religious Education from St. Paul’s University in Ottawa, Canada. She has been the Religious Education Director at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in New Orleans, the Formation Director for her religious community, and has taught junior and senior high school students.

Sister Helen began her prison ministry in 1981 when she dedicated her life to the poor of New Orleans. While living in the St. Thomas housing project, she became pen pals with Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers, sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison.

Dead Man Walking

Upon Sonnier’s request, Sister Helen repeatedly visited him as his spiritual advisor. In doing so, her eyes were opened to the Louisiana execution process. Sister Helen turned her experiences into a book that not only made the 1994 American Library Associates Notable Book List, it was also nominated for a 1993 Pulitzer Prize. Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States was number one on the New York Times Best Seller List for 31 weeks. It also made the International Best Seller List and has been translated into ten different languages.

In January 1996, the book was developed into a major motion picture starring Susan Sarandon as Sister Helen and Sean Penn as a death row inmate. Produced by Polygram Pictures, the film was directed and written by Tim Robbins. The movie received four Oscar nominations including Tim Robbins for Best Director, Sean Penn for Best Actor, Susan Sarandon for Best Actress, and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dead Man Walkin'” for Best Song. Susan Sarandon won the award for Best Actress.”

http://www.prejean.org/

http://www.sisterhelen.org/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Prejean

[Note- the following is an 8 part video. Click at upper right for continuation or click onto Youtube for Parts 2-8]

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Filed under Anti Death Penalty, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Criminal Justice, Human Rights, NOLA, racism, Work of Comrades

Kevin Alexander Gray on State Violence and the Murder of Troy Anthony Davis

KPFA FLASHPOINTS

Execution of Justice by Kim Nicolini

With the murder of Troy Anthony Davis by the state of Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a 2009 capital punishment opinion of  conservative associate, Justice Antonin Scalia, in which he ruled: “[T]his court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is ‘actually’ innocent.”

Still, the ultimate victory for Troy Davis is that he inspired millions of people – around the world and here in the United States – who want to live in a more peaceful and less violent society. In that regard Troy’s life and murder by the government was not in vain. Sometimes it takes a single incident to shake people up.

Bruce Dixon, managing editor@Black Agenda Report: ” It’s great that so many people signed Troy Davis’s petition and made themselves so visible as opponents of the death penalty. But Troy was clearly and obviously innocent, and imprisoned for decades, ultimately executed anyhow. But until we stand up for the rights of ALL the imprisoned, convicted and formerly convicted, including all those whose innocence, however you construe that word, is not so obvious and those who may in fact not even be innocent —- till we stand for their human rights to education, to health care and a decent chance at life by radically shrinking and ultimately ending the institution of prison the machine that convicts the literally innocent will retain legitimacy and roll on, doing what it does. In other words, coming out to oppose the execution of an obvious innocent person like Troy Davis is low hanging fruit. It’s good that so many are wiling to reach for it. But we will rarely be able to save even these till we de-legitimize the institution of prison and chop down the whole rotten tree.”

Amnesty International

To hear Kevin Alexander Gray’s interview click on header@top of page.  To contribute time or money to organizations working to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. click on any or all of the provided logos.  Click on Kim Nicolini’s artwork of Troy to link to his website which is being maintained by family and friends.  Or start, help start or join an existing anti-death-penalty group.

National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

The struggle continues.

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People

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Filed under Actions | Events, American Politics, American Progressive Politics, Anti Death Penalty, Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Historic Black Politics & Figures, Historic Photos - People, Human Rights, Law Enforcement, Police Abuse|Brutality|Killings, Political Ideology, Protest, racism, Work of Comrades

Urge Congress to Remove Death Penalty Provision from Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act | S. 909

national coaltion to abolish death penalty

On 7/20/09 the U.S. Senate passed the Matthew Shepherd Hate Crimes Prevention Act, with an amendment making hate crimes punishable by death.  Below please find the statement of the President of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, of which NCADP is an active member. 

Please contact your members of congress (House and Senate) to urge them to remove the death penalty provision when it goes to conference.

You can reach the US Capitol switchboard at 202.224.3121 and ask for your Senator’s or Representative’s office.   If you do not know who your two U.S. Senators or your Representative are, or for their direct office phone numbers and e-mail addresses, go here:  http://www.congress.org/congressorg/directory/congdir.tt

AFTER YOU CALL, please forward this message to your friends, family, etc. and ask them to call, and then please also send an e-mail to each of your two Senators and your Representative.

Thank you for your immediate action.

The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
202-331-4090

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   July 20, 2009Contact: Maggie Kao (202) 466-2735

Death Penalty Amendment Threatens Vital Hate Crimes Prevention Act

Statement of Wade Henderson, President and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Washington, D.C. – The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) released the following statement on today’s Senate passage of S. 909, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill (S. 1390).

“Today the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights applauds the Senate for passing the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act.  But, the victory is blighted with an unnecessary and poisonous death penalty amendment that is designed to kill this landmark legislation.

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Filed under Actions | Events, Anti Death Penalty