Nun gives DePaul 'Dead Man Walking' archives

February 10, 2011 4:52:47 AM PST
The movie ''Dead Man Walking'' tells the story of Sister Helen Prejean, who announced Wednesday she is giving her personal archives to Chicago's DePaul University.

The story is about a spiritual relationship the nun had with an inmate on Death Row. In the movie, Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn played the roles. But the real life story was written by and belongs to Sister Prejean. The Louisiana nun is donating the materials used in her life's work, a crusade to abolish the death penalty.

"To get the word out, so that students studying can dig into this," Sister Pejean said.

The archives include 50 boxes of her work, props and costumes from the movie, handwritten notes that appeal to bishops, popes and governors, and legal documents for executions.

You gotta bring people over to both sides of this issue. You have to show their outrage and abhorrence at the terrible deed this person has done to innocent people, then you gotta ...take people into the journey of just showing, now what, what it means for the state to kill this person?" Sister Prejean said.

DePaul University, which has a history of advocacy against the death penalty, is pleased to house the materials.

"This is an exhibit that asks people to think in their hearts: What does justice look like? Is it enough to put them away for life - or should we take a life?" Father Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul University president, said.

"When are we gonna learn that punishment .and inflicting pain on people doesn't heal anybody?" Sister Prejean said.

Both Sister Prejean and Father Holtschneider give former governor George Ryan credit for halting executions in Illinois. They're asking Governor Pat Quinn to sign a bill that would abolish the death penalty.