Sister on Alabama Public Television
Alabama Public Television Education

SISTER is a one-hour documentary highlighting the work of death penalty abolitionist Sister Helen Prejean. It examines the life and influences of Sister Helen and delves into the evolving role of Catholic nuns in America. In 1984, Sister Helen Prejean watched as Patrick Sonnier died, strapped to Gruesome Gertie, Louisiana's electric chair. The execution took place at a few minutes past midnight in Angola Prison in the State's remote backwoods. It was an almost secret ritual, and Prejean realized that the public would never know the reality of capital punishment unless she spoke up. She not only spoke up but also wrote a best-selling book, 'Dead Man Walking,' that ignited a debate about executions. The book was turned into an Oscar-winning movie, a play, and one of the most performed modern operas. In the end, this middle-class white nun, who grew up in the Jim Crow South, ended up becoming the world's most famous voice against the death penalty. The documentary takes viewers from New Orleans' segregated projects to inside the State's most infamous prison. It examines how the upheavals of a church, struggling to find its place in the modern world, brought about momentous change in the work and lives of nuns and also examines how art-literature, film and music-can be forces for justice and social change.

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