Our Task is to Tell the Stories

by Sister Helen Prejean
author of Dead Man Walking

The deepest message of all faiths is that we are all brothers and sisters. The death penalty says to us, "except for him, except for her."

What enables the death penalty to continue is detachment. It is executions that are carried out in secret with the trappings of a clinical procedure. Telling stories is what will turn that around. Yet if we are not engaged with death row inmates and with the families of victims, we cannot hear their stories.

The truth will set people free when they have the opportunity to hear it. And that is our task - to tell the stories. When we hear the stories, the dead man does walk.

The role of the religious community is to reconcile what seems irreconcilable: love for death row inmates and their human dignity, and love for murder victims and their dignity - and compassion for the hurt of their family members. Our spiritual energy can unite and combine what ideology alone can never bring together... we are lovers of justice and lovers of human beings.