– October 16, 2013 –
By Anna Schuck, Communications Director for Delaware Repeal
Sister Helen Prejean was working with poor communities in Louisiana when she was asked to correspond with a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier. She never knew that starting this relationship would lead to a lifelong journey of working to end the unjust practice of the death penalty in America.
It has been 30 years since then, and Sister Helen has become a prominent leader in abolishing the death penalty. This month she visited Delaware to advocate for Senate Bill 19, the legislation to repeal the death penalty which passed the state Senate in March and is currently tabled in the House Judiciary Committee. Sister Helen joined together with political, religious, and nonprofit leaders, representing the broad and diverse coalition of Delawareans that support repealing the death penalty. The message was simple – with such overwhelming support, Senate Bill 19 deserves the chance to be debated and voted on by the full Delaware House of Representatives.
Sister Helen headlined a press conference with leading Delaware clergy, had private discussions with political leaders before she spoke to a large crowd at Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Bear last week, sharing her inspiring story and urging them to get involved in the effort to end the death penalty in Delaware. “For me, the heart of this issue is how capital punishment hurts everyone involved – from families of both the victims and the executed to the corrections officers who have to kill in our names. We can do better. The death penalty unnecessarily exacerbates and prolongs undeniable suffering,” Sister Helen shared. “The more you know about the death penalty, the less you support it. Most folks in Delaware seem to understand that the system is broken and cannot be fixed, and are ready for the legislature to vote on it.”
CMN members are urged to think about people they know in Delaware, then contact them and ask them to join the growing coalition of Delawareans that support repeal. Folks who live in Delaware should visit the Delaware Repeal website to write their legislators, urging them support Senate Bill 19. The campaign also welcomes volunteers both in and out of the state. To help, call Abe Bonowitz at 800-973-6548 or e-mail him.
This article was first featured in the October 2013 CMN Newsletter.