‘Dead Man Walking’ nun deplores resumption of US federal executions

By Linda Bordoni, 5 August 2020
Image: Don LaVange


Federal executions resume in the US as the Covid-19 pandemic lays bare serious structural inequalities of the American judicial system. Anti-death penalty activist, Sr Helen Prejean, reiterates it is time to end the suffering.

The U.S. Justice Department has set 26 August as the execution date for Lezmond Mitchell, who is scheduled to be put to death in the same week as Keith Dwayne Nelson.

Three other people have been executed over the course of four days in July after the US Supreme Court cleared the way for federal executions after a 17-year moratorium.

This is more than the United States has put to death in half a century. Analysts point out that the controversial decision represents an intrusion by the federal government into matters the states and cities normally handle. They say it is a decision taken despite a series of legal concerns including reservations regarding medical precautions and the opposition of family members of the executed prisoners’ victims.

Sr Helen Prejean CSJ has dedicated her life and ministry to the fight for justice for the men she continues to accompany in death row and to changing hearts and minds in the struggle against capital punishment.

Internationally known for her best-selling book, that became an Oscar-winning film, Dead Man Walking, Sr Helen told Vatican Radio’s Linda Bordoni that injustice is deeply embedded in the United States’ judicial system.

To read the rest of this article, and to listen to the interview with Sr Helen Prejean CSJ, click here.

With thanks to Vatican News and Linda Bordoni, where this article first appeared.


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