Graphics and the Death Penalty

Sr. Helen Prejean

The following two quotes are taken from the book Dead Man Walking, by Sr. Helen Prejean, an internationally known advocate for the abolition of the death penalty.

"I have no doubt that we will one day abolish the death penalty in America. It will come sooner if people like me who know the truth about executions do our work well and educate the public. It will come slowly if we do not. Because, finally, I know that it is not a question of malice or ill will or meanness of spirit that prompts our citizens to support executions. It is, quite simply, that people don't know the truth of what is going on. That is not by accident. The secrecy surrounding executions makes it possible for executions to continue. I am convinced that if executions were made public, the torture and violence would be unmasked, and we would be shamed into abolishing executions. We would be embarrassed at the brutalization of the crowds that would gather to watch a man or woman be killed. And we would be humiliated to know that visitors from other countries -- Japan, Russia, Latin America, Europe -- were watching us kill our own citizens -- we, who take pride in being the flagship of democracy in the world.

- p. 197

Jennings asks if I feel it would be a good thing for people to be exposed to executions, and I say yes, because then they would see the violence unmasked and this would lead them to abolish executions.

- p. 214

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