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Stanford Report, January 19, 2000

Nun who wrote Dead Man Walking to speak at Stanford

Sister Helen Prejean, an international crusader against the death penalty, will deliver the annual Reinhardt Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in Cubberley Auditorium.

Her talk, "Capital Punishment and Its Effect on Inmates and Society," is sponsored by the Catholic Community at Stanford. There is no admission charge.

Prejean, a Louisiana native, catapulted into the public eye following publication of Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the U.S. (Random House, 1993; Vintage, 1994), which was made into a motion picture that earned an Academy Award for Susan Sarandon, who portrayed Prejean.

The book, which has been translated into 10 languages, is the basis of an opera that will be performed by the San Francisco Opera Company in the fall.

In 1998 and in 1999, Prejean was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. She is the recipient of numerous awards and 20 honorary degrees.

As part of her ministry, Prejean for the past two decades has worked with poor, inner-city residents of the St. Thomas Housing Project in New Orleans. Prejean is honorary chairwoman of Hands Off Cain, a Rome-based international group working for the abolition of the death penalty; a member of Amnesty International; and a former board member of the U.S. National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

According to the Rev. Patrick LaBelle, pastor of the Catholic Community at Stanford, the death penalty is a subject close to the heart of many Catholics, since "the American bishops and the Holy Father have spoken out against it."

Prejean's book will be available for purchase and the author will be available to autograph them.

In the event of an overflow crowd at Cubberley, which seats 400, Memorial Auditorium is on backup reserve for the talk, LaBelle said.

The lecture series was endowed by the late Kurt Frank Reinhardt, a professor of philosophy and German who taught at Stanford from 1930 to 1962. Reinhardt, who died in 1983, was an active member of Stanford's Catholic community. SR