Bestselling author comes to Tech

February 6, 2014


Sister Helen Prejean signs books for guests following her presentation on her book “Dead Man Walking.” – Photo by Devin Dronett

Sister Helen Prejean signs books for guests following her presentation on her book “Dead Man Walking.” – Photo by Devin Dronett

Sister Helen Prejean presented Tuesday on her experiences with the death penalty


Ian Edwards
Staff Reporter


Tech has hosted many famous figures over the years, and Tuesday night was no exception.


Sister Helen Prejean, author of “Dead Man Walking,” “The Death of Innocents” and an essay in “This I Believe II,” spoke in Howard Auditorium on her close experience with the death penalty and her relationships with death row inmates.


Prejean said the opportunity to write a letter to an inmate presented itself one day.


“I had a friend come to me and ask if I wanted to begin correspondence with a death row inmate,” she said. “I never dreamed he would write back, but as I learned, Jesus is sneaky. He did write back, and that’s how I began exchanging letters with Patrick Sonnier, the titular man of ‘Dead Man Walking.’


Linda Griffith, dean of student development, said this was not Tech’s first attempt to bring Sister Helen to the campus.




“This is the third year in a row that our First Year Experience committee made ‘This I Believe II’ the common read,” Griffith said. “We tried to bring her two years ago, but her schedule was too full. It was truly a blessing we were able to provide her a place to speak to the students tonight.”


Will Dearmon, coordinator of special programs and student affairs, said the night was a success.


“We had around 400 to 500 attendees tonight, consisting of both students and faculty,” Dearmon said. “It was great to see that outpouring of love, support and interest all across campus.”


Ranita Shows, a criminal justice student from Louisiana State University in Alexandria, said Prejean’s words spoke to her.


“Sitting and waiting on death row seems like an unjust punishment for the mental aspect of it alone,” Shows said. “Sitting around everyday never knowing ‘will they, won’t they?’ is torture enough. And what about the innocents who have been imprisoned and killed on charges they did not commit?”


Prejean said she hopes students will use her words to take a firm stance on either side of the death penalty debate.


“I hope they will take away a stance on this important question that we all grapple with,” she said. “Of course, there is the empathy for the families who have had loved ones taken from them, but on the other hand, I hope the students will consider the implications that come with giving the state the power to decide who lives and dies.”


Email comments to ije001@latech.edu.



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