Watch Sister Helen Prejean 20 years after the release of her bestselling book, Dead Man Walking. From Democracy Now 6.19.13.
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From the Democracy Now website on the first video clip above:
In a remarkable story on the journey from grief to forgiveness, Bill Pelke joins us along with renowned activist and “Dead Man Walking” author Sister Helen Prejean to discuss the latest victory for the movement against the death penalty. On Monday, the state of Indiana freed Paula Cooper, the Indiana woman convicted for the 1985 murder of Pelke’s grandmother, elderly Bible school teacher Ruth Pelke, in Gary, Indiana. At the time, Cooper became the youngest person on death row. She had been the victim of child abuse and had attended 10 different schools by the time of her arrest. Her case galvanized human rights activists and death penalty opponents around the world, including Bill Pelke himself. Partnering with Sister Helen, he campaigned against the death penalty and pleaded for Cooper to be granted clemency. “I became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that my grandmother would have been appalled by the fact that this girl was on death row,” Pelke recalls. “I was convinced she would have had love for Paula Cooper and her family. I felt she wanted some of my family to have that same sort of love and compassion.” Sister Helen, whose best-selling book “Dead Man Walking” was turned into the Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, is the founder of Survive, a victims’ advocacy group in New Orleans. She continues to counsel not only inmates on death row, but also the families of murder victims. “Forgiveness is not first and foremost what you do for the one who’s hurt you to lift their burden,” Sister Helen says. “It’s a way of saving your own life, a way of preserving wholeness, as we can see in Bill Pelke.”