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October 18, 2011

‘Dead Man Walking’ author returns to University of Oregon

Sister Helen Prejean makes fourth visit to UO

Nationally-recognized human rights and restorative justice activist Sister Helen Prejean is returning on her fourth visit to Eugene and the University of Oregon October 15-22.

While at the UO, Prejean will attend classes at the Robert D. Clark Honors College and the law school’s Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center. She also will work with the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, taught through the Clark Honors College, and will host an interdisciplinary panel through an engagement with the UO’s Carnegie Global Ethics Initiative.

Sister Helen is participating in a number of public speaking and community events at the university and in both Eugene and Portland:

  • 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 16: First United Methodist Church, 1376 Olive St. Eugene
  • 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 16: Blessing at the Church World Service Crop Walk. Additional details to be announced.
  • 9 a.m. Monday, Oct. 17: All-School Assembly, Kelly Middle School, 850 Howard Ave. Eugene
  • 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17: Temple Beth Israel, 1175 E. 29th Ave. Eugene
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18: Campus/Community event in Erb Memorial Union Ballroom at UO in Eugene.
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19: Global Oregon Learning Community panel discussion: “Ethics and the International Politics of the Death Penalty” at UO in Eugene. Additional details to be announced.

Additional events not open to the public featuring Prejean include:

  • 9 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21: Presentation at Mary’s Woods Retirement Community in Lake Oswego
  • 11:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 21: Presentation to Portland City Club
  • 4 p.m. Friday Oct. 21: “The Values of the Criminal Justice System and its Impact on Youth” presentation at the UO in Portland. Sponsored by Clark Honors College and UO Law.

Prejean is one of the best-known human rights and restorative justice activists. Her first book, New York Times best seller and Pulitzer-Prize nominated “Dead Man Walking,” was based on her experience as the spiritual advisor to convicted killer and death row inmate, Patrick Sonnier, who was sentenced to die for the murder of two teenagers. Her book was later turned into the award-winning film directed by Tim Robbins.

Sister Helen’s second book, “The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions,” tells the story of two possibly innocent men whom she accompanied to their executions. The book evaluates the evidence and examines how flaws in the death penalty system lead to the execution of innocent people.

Fifteen years after beginning her crusade, the Roman Catholic sister has witnessed five executions in Louisiana and today educates the public about the death penalty by lecturing, organizing and writing. As the founder of “Survive,” a victim’s advocacy group in New Orleans, she continues to counsel not only inmates on death row, but the families of murder victims, as well.

Prejean’s visit to the UO is being sponsored by the Carlton and Wilberta Ripley Savage Endowment for International Relations and Peace, the Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the Oregon Law Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center.

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