No person has worked more effectively toward the abolition of the death penalty in the United States than Helen Prejean, CSJ. Her best-selling book Dead Man Walking, and the hit Hollywood film adaptation in which she was played by Susan Sarandon, was a catalyst for drawing national attention to the issue. In the years since then, her continuing and often controversial work with death-row inmates has kept the issue near the forefront of national debate. She has confronted lawyers and judges, politicians and the media, to expose the indignity and injustice of the death penalty and inhumane prison conditions.
In Helen Prejean: Death Row's Nun, Joyce Duriga explores Sister Helen's life growing up in upper-middle-class Louisiana, her growing awareness of the injustice of the death penalty, and its disproportionate targeting of the poor and minorities, and her introduction to death-row inmates Patrick Sonnier and Robert Lee Willie. Through this book, readers will witness her life's work with victims and their families, and see how she came to understand her role in prison ministry, not only as an activist but as a champion fighting for hope and restorative justice for those facing the death penalty.
Joyce Duriga has served as editor of Chicago Catholic, the official newspaper for the Archdiocese of Chicago, since 2007. Prior to coming to Chicago, she was the associate editor of Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newsweekly. She is the author of Helen Prejean: Death Row's Nun (Liturgical Press), and her work appears regularly in local, regional, and national publications.