Skip to main content

Dead Man Walking Author Highlights Villanova University Catholic Social Teaching and Criminal Justice Conference

Sister Helen Prejean, C.S.J., will speak at the close of the March 23-24 conference, which focuses on the theory of punishment from the standpoint of Catholic social teaching.

March 13, 2009

VILLANOVA, Pa, March 13, 2009 – A discussion with Sister Helen Prejean, CSJ, the author of Dead Man Walking, will highlight a two-day conference at Villanova University focusing on Catholic social teaching and criminal justice. Sister Prejean’s discussion, "Dead Man Walking – The Journey Continues,” will take place on Tuesday, March 24, at 7 p.m. in Jake Nevin Field House, located on the campus of Villanova University. The event is free and open to the public.

The two-day conference, held March 23-24, is sponsored by Villanova’s Office for Mission and Ministry, along with the Office for Service Learning in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, the Villanova Theology Institute and The Journal of Catholic Social Thought. To register and purchase tickets for the full conference program, please visit the conference Web site.

“Our hope is that this conference will foster a dialogue on ways to achieve the common good for all people and bring greater understanding of the need for healing, forgiveness and reconciliation in the lives of victims, offenders, families and neighborhoods most affected by violence and crime,” said Barbara Wall, Villanova’s Vice President for Mission and Ministry.

Villanova’s conference brings together a group of scholars to examine the theory of punishment and how to deal with offenders from a Catholic social teaching standpoint. Representatives from Villanova as well as Duke University, Marquette University, American University and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice will discuss topics such as vengeance, forgiveness, justice as punishment, restoration to community, restorative justice and exoneration in 10 sessions. The thought-provoking sessions include "The Christian Virtue of Justice and the U.S. Prison,” "Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence” and "The Community-Level Consequences of Mass Incarceration.”

For more information about Catholic social teaching and criminal justice, please visit the Mission & Ministry conferences page.

Sister Helen Prejean, author of the best-selling book Dead Man Walking, which inspired the major motion picture by the same name, also wrote the 2004 book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Execution, which examines the flaws in the death penalty system. Prejean has appeared on 60 Minutes, ABC World News Tonight, the Phil Donahue Show, BBC World Service Radio, ABC's Primetime Live and PBS' Frontline, among others.

Villanova University, a co-educational Roman Catholic institution, was founded by the Order of Saint Augustine in 1842. A premier institution of higher education, Villanova provides a comprehensive education rooted in the liberal arts; a shared commitment to the Augustinian ideals of truth, unity and love; and a community dedicated to service to others. A wide variety of undergraduate and graduate degree programs are offered through the University’s four colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering and the College of Nursing, as well as the Villanova School of Law. With a total enrollment that surpasses 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students, Villanova is the oldest and largest Catholic university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Conference Schedule

Monday, March 23, 2009
2:30 - 5:30 PM Registration
Lower Level – Atrium, Connelly Center
4:15 - 4:30 PM Welcome and Opening Remarks
Barbara Wall, Ph.D., Vice President for Mission and Ministry, Villanova University
Villanova Room – Connelly Center
4:30 - 5:45 PM “What is Fair Punishment?”
Jeffrey Reiman, Ph.D., American University
Villanova Room – Connelly Center
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
9:00 - 10:00 AM Registration
Lower Level – Atrium, Connelly Center
10:00 - 11:15 AM "The Community-Level Consequences of Mass Incarceration"
Todd Clear, Ph.D., John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY
Villanova Room – Connelly Center
11:30 - 12:45 PM "The Christian Virtue of Justice and the U.S. Prison"
Kathryn Getek, Villanova University
Villanova Room – Connelly Center
1:30 - 2:45 PM "Strategies to Reduce Gun Violence"
Philip Cook, Ph.D., Duke University
Villanova Room – Connelly Center
3:00 - 4:15 PM "Forgiving Violent Crime"
Hon. Janine P. Geske, Marquette University Law School
Villanova Room – Connelly Center
4:30 - 5:30 PM

Concurrent Sessions – (Subject to Change)

"An Innocent Person Who Survived Death Row"

Curtis McCarty, Witness to Innocence
Villanova Room – Connelly Center

"Expressions of Forgiveness and Restorative Justice"

Joyce Zavarich, D. Min., Villanova University
Devon Room – Connelly Center


"Privatization of Prisons"
William Waegel, Ph.D., Villanova University
Cinema – Connelly Center


"Restorative Justice"
Jesse Couenhoven, Ph.D., Villanova University
Rosemont Room – Connelly Center

7:00 PM "Dead Man Walking – The Journey Continues"
Sr. Helen Prejean, C.S.J.
Jake Nevin Field House