Dead Man Walking - Sister Helen PrejeanDead Man Walking is one woman’s eye-witness observation of the capital punishment system in our country.  It was written by Sister Helen Prejean in 1993, and describes her experiences as a spiritual advisor to two death-penalty inmates.  Along the way, she meets officials both kind and cruel, witnesses the agony of the victims’ families, chronicles the emotional toll on the guards, and discovers bribery and political corruption.  Ultimately, she helps the inmates and their families cope with the grinding terror of paying the final penalty.  Dead Man Walking was made into a movie in 1995 and an opera in 2000.  The author, a Louisiana nun, speaks always in a calm and sensible this-is-what-I-saw voice.  The juxtaposition of this quiet, factual voice against its bizarre and brutal setting makes the contrast more extreme.

Dead Man Walking is well worth reading for the ethical questions it raises.

Recommended by Ann M.