‘Dead Man Walking’ author takes on Delaware death penalty repeal

 Sister Helen Prejean (photo courtesy of sisterhelen.org)

Sister Helen Prejean (photo courtesy of sisterhelen.org)

A bill to repeal Delaware’s death penalty made major progress in the state legislature earlier this year and supporters believe the momentum will continue again in 2014.

Delaware Repeal Project, a coalition made up of more than 20 partners from across the state, are hoping to gain more supporters after a presentation Wednesday with Sister Helen Prejean, the Catholic nun who wrote Dead Man Walking after her first-hand experience working with death row inmates.

Sister Helen is a national public speaker and advocate of ending capital punishment.

Anna Schuck, communications coordinator for the Delaware Repeal Project said religious leaders from several denominations are scheduled to meet with Sister Helen Wednesday afternoon to engage in discussion.

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A public event will be held with Sister Helen in the evening and Schuck said she hopes it will raise awareness and provide information that most people probably don’t know about the death penalty.

“Even if church leadership is supportive, people in the congregation don’t know much about the death penalty so we hope they’re interested in coming because Sister Helen is such a prominent voice on the issue,” explained Schuck. “They want to hear her speak because of Dead Man Walking and with that we can have a really important discussion on what the death penalty is really about.”

Supporters of repealing the death penalty claim it’s expensive, discriminatory and harms victim’s families.

Kathleen MacRae, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware said repeal supporters have been doing community outreach since the end of the legislative session in July. She said Sister Helen’s presentation is one of their major events planned for the year.

“It’s certainly to educate everybody in Delaware more thoroughly about the issue, it’s to raise the profile of the campaign, the legislative campaign that was begun in March,” she said.

In March Senate Bill 19 cleared the Senate 11-10 with bipartisan support. It is currently tabled in the House Judiciary Committee.

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