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Sister Helen Prejean equates lethal injection with torture

helenFor more 20 years, Sr. Helen Prejean, a Roman Catholic nun, has worked to educate the public about the death penalty. She has been spiritual adviser to eight death row inmates, turning her experience visiting one into the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking.” In 1995, the book was turned into a film starring Susan Sarandon, winning he actress an Oscar for her performance.

Sr. Helen spoke at First Presbyterian Church on November 21, 2008 of her work with the poor, the death penalty, and prisoners on death. The event was sponsored by the Peninsular Peace and Justice Center of Palo Alto. She said that often prisoners are brought to point of execution only to have their execution postponed. This is like a mock execution which is tantamount to torture.

Sister Helen Prejean, second from right, with members of audience.
Sister Helen Prejean, second from right, with members of audience.
She described the lethal injection process. After the prisoner is tied down for execution they are injected with pancuromium bromide which incapacitates the muscles. Then potassium chloride is injected that stops the heart. She said that injection of postasium chloride can cause extreme pain to the prisoner who cannot exhibit the torture that they are experiencing because their muscles are disabled.

Sr. Helen went on to say that the death penalty inures us to torture.

During a Q & A S. Helen was asked about life without the possibility of parole (LWOP). She said that we need to get the death penalty off the table. Then we can work on LWOP. It needs to be a two-step process.