January 5, 2007
Jan. 26: Conflict Resolution program sponsors ‘Dead Man Walking’ author Sister Helen Prejean
From Revenge to Reconciliation:
Dead Man Walking author
speaks on restorative justice
Restorative justice is the focus of a free public lecture by Sister Helen Prejean, Roman Catholic nun and death penalty opponent, who will visit the University of Oregon School of Law on Friday, January 26.
She will speak on “From Revenge to Reconciliation” at 7 p.m. in Room 175 of the Knight Law Center, 1515 Agate Street in Eugene.
Prejean will be the guest of the new UO master’s degree program in Conflict and Dispute Resolution.
Program Director Tim Hicks said, “The death penalty is the most extreme aspect of the retributive justice system and we study the opposite approach.
“Restorative justice – Sister Helen is one of its best known proponents – turns things around. Instead of blaming and claiming innocence, offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for their actions and try to repair the harm they have done.”
Now in its second year, the master’s program has attracted former police officers, healthcare and social workers, teachers, and others who want to include new conflict resolution approaches in their work.
Prejean is best known for her Pulitzer-prize nominated autobiographical book, Dead Man Walking, about her relationship with a death row inmate and his 1984 electrocution in a Louisiana prison.
The 1995 movie of the same name starred Susan Sarandon as Prejean and Sean Penn as the convicted kidnapper and murderer of a teenage couple.
The movie won an Oscar in 1996 for Sarandon and propelled Prejean and her cause into national prominence.
Prejean’s most recent book, The Death of Innocents (2005), includes eyewitness accounts of wrongful executions.
Prejean is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille, a 9,000 member service order founded 350 years ago by a French Jesuit priest. The sisters live and work in the community with prisoners, the poor, and the desperate. Prejean lives in New Orleans.