Symposium on Restorative Justice and the Death Penalty


Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

 This event is free and open to the public. 

10:00-11:15     Dr. Michael Radelet
40 Years Since Gary Gilmore: How The Death Penalty (And Everything Else) Has Changed

11:30-12:45     Sister Helen Prejean
Dead Man Walking: The Journey Continues

1:00-2:15         Lunch

2:30-3:45         Dr. Fania Davis
Envisioning a Justice That Heals

4:00-5:15         Panel discussion with Radelet, Prejean, and Dr. Michael Minch

All Presentations are in room CB 204.

Guest Speakers


Sister Helen Keynote SpeakerSister Helen Prejean has been instrumental in sparking national dialogue on the death penalty and helping to shape the Catholic Church’s newly vigorous opposition to state executions.  She travels around the world giving talks about her ministry.  She considers herself a southern storyteller.

Sister Helen is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph.  She spent her first years with the Sisters teaching religion to junior high school students.  Realizing that being on the side of poor people is an essential part of the Gospel she moved into the St. Thomas Housing Project in New Orleans and began working at Hope House from 1981 – 1984.

During this time, she was asked to correspond with a death row inmate Patrick Sonnier at Angola.  She agreed and became his spiritual adviser.  After witnessing his execution, she wrote a book about the experience.  The result was Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States.  It became a movie, an opera and a play for high schools and colleges.

Since 1984, Sister Helen has divided her time between educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling individual death row prisoners.  She has accompanied six men to their deaths.  In doing so, she began to suspect that some of those executed were not guilty.  This realization inspired her second book, The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions, which was released by Random House in December of 2004.

Sr. Helen is presently at work on another book - RIVER OF FIRE: MY SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.

Michael Radelet

Dr. Michael Radelet, Professor and Associate Chair at the Department of Sociology of the University of Colorado at Boulder.  Dr.Radelet is a medical sociologist and internationally known for his work on various issues related to capital punishment, particularly racial disparities in death sentencing. Among other things, he studies mental health issues among prisoners and their families, the "recovery" process of families of homicide victims, and ethical issues for health professionals involved in capital punishment decisions.








Fania DavisRJOY’s Executive Director, Dr. Fania Davis,  is an African-American woman, long-time social justice activist, a restorative justice scholar and professor, and a civil rights attorney with a Ph.D. in indigenous knowledge. Coming of age in Birmingham, Alabama during the social ferment of the civil rights era, the murder of two close childhood friends in the 1963 Sunday School bombing crystallized within Faniaa passionate commitment to social transformation. For the next decades, she was active in the civil rights, Black liberation, women’s, prisoners’, peace, socialist, anti-imperialist, anti-racial violence and anti-apartheid movements. After receiving her law degree from University of California, Berkeley in 1979, Fania practiced almost 27 years as a civil rights trial lawyer. During the late 1990’s, she entered a Ph.D. program in indigenous studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies, and apprenticed with traditional healers around the globe, particularly in Africa. Fania has since taught Restorative Justice and Indigenous Peacemaking at graduate and undergraduate levels.  Founding Director of RJOY, Fania has also served as counsel to the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. Honors include the Ubuntu Service to Humanity award, the Maloney award recognizing exceptional contributions in youth-based restorative justice, World Trust's Healing Justice award. She was recently named by the Los Angeles Times as a New Civil Rights Leader of the 21st Century. Fania is also a mother, grandmother, dancer, and practitioner of yoga.





We would like to thank the following for their financial support:

Dean David Yells, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
Dean Daniel Fairbanks, College of Science and Health
Dr. Cameron John, Chair, Behavioral Science Department
Dr. Matthew Duffin, Criminal Justice Department
Dr. Lynn England, Peace and Justice Studies
Dr. Wayne Hanewicz, Chair, Integrated Studies Department
Dr. Pierre Lamarche, Chair, Philosophy and Humanities Department
Dr. Kate McPherson, Director, Honors Program
Phil Clegg, Student Government



The Death Penalty Information Center
Amnesty International