Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Dead Man Walking Author Talks with The Hoot

Published: April 7, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

The Nobel and Pulitzer Prize Nominated author of Dead Man Walking, Sister Helen Prejean, took some time after her speech on the Brandeis Institute of Investigative Journalisms Day of Innocence to speak with David Pepose of The Hoot.

David Pepose: What do you think was your highest and your lowest points throughout your exploits with these inmates?
Sister Helen Prejean: Well, highest points are just recognizing that these people are human beingsthat taught me a lot. Lowest points are going to watch people dieor be killed, not just dieespecially those who were innocent.
DP: What do you think hampers your work the most?
SHP: Not being able to get to enough places, and be ubiquitous as a nun in the United States, to be more the Flying Nun than the Roman Catholic Nunthats why its so important to get to young people, so that young people can get it and spread it.
DP: How do you feel about the rise of conservative politicians in office nowadays? I know you mentioned a little bit about it in your speech.
SHP: I feel that it is a serious threat. Not just conservative, but extremistwhere they use religion to promote political causes that keep wealthy people wealthy, makes more and more people poor in this country, without health care[they] dont care about the social fabric. And I never use those terms, conservative or liberal, I just say look at the policies. Martin Luther King used to say the most moral document youll ever look at is the budgetwe spend over $400 billion on war-making, and I want to see that moved to social justice.
DP: Heres a question, based on the various themes of the dayhuman dignity and the pursuit of truththat has no right answer. Which do you think is more important: dignity or truth?
SHP: Cant put the two of those things in opposition to each other. The more and more you descend into the truth, the more and more you realize that the essential thing is dignity. And dignity means people shouldnt be in poverty, shouldnt be tortured, shouldnt be killed.
DP: What advice do you have for people who want to help?
SHP: First of all, get your information. Second, join the communitydont work as a Lone Ranger, youll never last long. Join with other groups of people, learn, and then begin to act. No matter how simple it is, dont forget to act.
DP: How do you feel about a potential Innocence Project at Brandeis?
SHP: I love the idea of an Innocence Project at Brandeis! And Id love to see that come, that I helped that spark to it being engendered here, and as soon as it comes to birth, I want you to call me, and let me know thats happened.
DP: One more questionwhere do you think youd be if you werent doing this work?
SHP: I think Ill always work with prisoners, theres just so much to do, because 2.1 million people are thrown into exile in this country. Its like legalized slaverythey get two-and-a-half cents an hour when they come to a prison. We have got to do something about thatsomeway, hanging out with poor people, I know that much.