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Dead Man Walking

The University of Dayton is exploring issues around the death penalty in a series of events ranging from music, art, discussions and a visit by the nun who authored Dead Man Walking.

Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., will give a public talk at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, in the RecPlex on Evanston Avenue, as part of the University of Dayton Speaker Series. It's free and open to the public.

Prejean has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and shaping the Catholic Church's opposition to state executions. As a result of her experience counseling a death row inmate and witnessing his execution, she wrote Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States. The book became a movie, an opera and a play for high schools and colleges. The Dayton Opera will stage two performances of the opera as part of the series.

Her talk is a highlight of an extended series of events on and off campus inspired by Prejean's book and work. It's coordinated through the University's "Rites. Rights. Writes." campus-wide initiative to examine complex issues through a variety of academic disciplines.

"During this academic year, the University is exploring how the arts can change perceptions and create meaningful conversations through the perspectives of both faith and reason," said Richard Chenoweth, Graul Endowed Chair in the Arts and Languages. "Sister Helen’s experience underlines the value of applying spiritual, social and ethical considerations to important issues and decisions facing our society."

Dead Man Walking series events include:

7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 18, Sears Recital Hall. Panel discussion on "Does the Death Penalty have a Future?" Panelists include U.S. District Judge Walter Rice, Montgomery County Common Pleas Judge Steven Dankof, Montgomery County Public Defender Rudy Wehner, Ohio Innocence Project Director Mark Godsey and Ricky Jackson, who was freed by the project after nearly four decades in prison. Moderated by Laura Hume, director of the University's pre-law program. Free and open to the public.

5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 20, Kennedy Union Ballroom. Dead Man Walking film screening. Directed by Tim Robbins and starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn, the 1995 film was nominated for four Academy Awards. Free and open to the public.

Feb. 21 through April 12, Dayton Art Institute. Art installation: The Last Supper: 600 Plates Illustrating Final Meals of U.S. Death Row Inmates by Julie Green. Admission is free for University of Dayton students. Suggested general admission: $8 for adults; $5 for age 60 and over; free for age 17 and under. For more information visit the Dayton Art Institute. Presented in partnership by the Dayton Art Institute and the University of Dayton.

8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, and 3 p.m. Sunday, March 1. Benjamin and Marion Schuster Center for the Performing Arts. Dead Man Walking. Presented in partnership by the Dayton Opera, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance and the University of Dayton. Tickets range from $24 - $94. For tickets and information visit the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance.

1 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27, ArtStreet Studio B. Film screening and discussion of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Free and open to the public.

7 p.m. Friday, March 13, ArtStreet Studio B. Film screening and discussion of Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians. Free and open to the public.

7 p.m. Friday, March 20, ArtStreet Studio B. Film screening and discussion of Carandiru. Free and open to the public.

4 p.m. Wednesday, March 25, Gallery 121, The Dayton Art Institute. Gallery talk "The Last Supper: A Humanitarian's Approach to the Death Penalty Debate." Free to art institute members and University of Dayton students; included in suggested museum admission for non-members.

For more information on the Dead Man Walking series, visit


News and Communications Staff