Helen Prejean, C.S.J. (born April 21, 1939, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana) is a Roman Catholic sister, a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph based in New Orleans, and a leading American advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.
Sr. Prejean has founded the groups SURVIVE, to help families of victims of murder and related crimes. She served as the National Chairperson of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty from 1993 to 1995. She helped establish The Moratorium Campaign, seeking an end to executions and conducting education on the death penalty.
She is known for her best-selling book, Dead Man Walking (1993), based on her experiences with two convicts on Death Row for whom she served as spiritual adviser before their executions. In her book, she explored the effects of the death penalty on everyone involved. The book was adapted as a 1995 movie of the same name, starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. It was also adapted as an opera, first produced in 2000 by the San Francisco Opera.
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