Monday, January 3, 2011

Book One of 2011

I don’t really know how to describe my experience reading Dead Man Walking.  

Draining? Sort of.

Stunning? Yes.

Informative? Certainly.

This book explains Sister Helen Prejean’s, a Catholic Nun, experiences with two different death row inmates in Louisiana. What begins as a simple pen pal exchange with one (Patrick Sonnier), turns into a life-altering experience for Prejean. Prejean, quite simply, learns not only about crime, but also the role that society has played in creating crime.  She sees these prisoners not as violent offenders but as the people that they are. She grows to understand that the death penalty is not the best way to retaliate against their crimes, and that often justice in the name of religion isn’t justice at all.

I suppose Dead Man Walking managed to shock and horrify me. I read poverty and violence statistics that I had never seen before, and I was ashamed that a country like the United States could be that unjust.  People need to know about this structural violence, and they need to take action. As Prejean proves, even small actions can create huge crescents of change.

While heavy on information, this book is a quick read. I suggest that anyone with interest in social activism, Christianity, or criminal justice take the time to check this out.



Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account Of The Death Penalty In The United States
Vintage (1994), Edition: 1st Vintage Books ed, Paperback, 288 pages

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