A Letter from Sister Helen Prejean to Governor Gavin Newsom


Dear Governor Newsom,

Do you have ANY IDEA how refreshing it is to the SOUL to have a politician seek public office, who promises to stay true to something, and then actually ENACTS THE TRUTH once s/he gets into office? Who, in short, acts out of moral principle, not, simply, political expediency?

You proved to be a man of your word, who, during your campaign professed to morally oppose the death penalty and promised to do all you could once in office to abolish it. And then did precisely that by declaring a moratorium on the death penalty in your state, effectively granting a reprieve from death to 737 human beings in your state.

I am rejoicing, along with a lot of other good souls in California and across the nation, who have worked long and hard to wake up the people to abolish government-sanctioned torture (yes, it is torture) and pre-meditated killing of our fellow citizens.

You give us hope, Governor Newsom.

And you give us renewed energy to press on with the effort to abolish the death penalty in our states forever from this land.

We can see it – praise God – the wave of abolition in the U.S. is swelling and moving steadily to break upon the shore; death sentences and actual executions are at an all-time low, costs to taxpayers are shown to be exorbitant and benefits few, and the people are waking up. At last, after almost forty years of practice and over a thousand citizens killed, the death penalty itself is dying as state after state simply stops executing, even  though the penalty is still on the books, and one state after another repeals the practice.

After witnessing six executions (of guilty and innocent alike – the system is irreparably broken), I personally believe that one of the reasons actual executions are in decline is that the people closest to the killing- declared legal or not -the execution “tactical teams,” who have to take an alive human being from a holding cell and strap him or her down to kill them, have lost heart and cannot bring themselves to carry out the killings anymore. I record the anguish of one such execution guard in my book, Dead Man Walking.  There are many others, wardens and guards alike…

Onward, Governor Newsom!

A politician of principle like you goes a long, long way.

From the heart,

Sister Helen Prejean


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