In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana’s Angola State Prison. In the months before Sonnier’s death, the Roman Catholic nun came to know a man who was as terrified as he had once been terrifying. At the same time, she came to know the families of the victims and the men whose job it was to execute him—men who often harbored doubts about the rightness of what they were doing.
Out of that dreadful intimacy comes a profoundly moving spiritual journey through our system of capital punishment. Confronting both the plight of the condemned and the rage of the bereaved, the needs of a crime-ridden society and the Christian imperative of love, Dead Man Walking is an unprecedented look at the human consequences of the death penalty, a book that is both enlightening and devastating.
Prejean, Helen, CSJ. Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. New York, New York: Random House, 1993.
ISBN 0679403582 (Hardcover); ISBN 0679751319 (Paperback)
This resource originally was posted on the Catholics Against Capital Punishment (CACP) website, which was turned over to CMN in 2012. For more information on CACP’s history and other resources, click here.