Listen: Barr directs federal government to reinstate death penalty, schedule the execution of 5 death row inmates
"Penalty. The book was turned into the academy award winning film starring susan sarandon and sean penn her new book. Doc is just out this week. It's called river of fire. My spiritual journey sister helen prejean also the founder of survive a victim's advocacy cacique group in new orleans. She continues to council not only prisoners on death row but also the families of murder victims sister helen per sean. It's great to have view back here right <hes> congratulations on your book as you here in the last week's surprise announcement of the attorney general william embar that they are re basically restoring the federal death penalty and they immediately said they would kill five five prisoners who've been on federal death row and then in the wake of the past so in the dayton killings saying bar just announcing that he will <hes> particularly go after mass shooters in this country. It may be that many people agree with him. What are your thoughts well. I'm not surprised that we're embar. Did this or the trump administration wants to expedite federal executions. It's is their whole way of approaching everything that the way is through violence to try to solve social problems. The federal death penalty is not going to a. b. Any more equal justice under law then the st death penalties have been the mood in the country is to shut the death penalty down i in practice actes and then gradually state by state to repeal it. The way that federal death penalty has always worked. It's been up to the discretion of individual federal prosecutors secures so we've had side by side whereas in manhattan in new york federal prosecutors never went for the death penalty over in texas they were always going for the death breath penalty and this will be no different so i'm not at all surprised they're doing it. They also seem to have no understanding about how the courts work. They can can claim all they want that. They're gonna fast track this and speed up these executions but there is the constitution and there are the appeals and so i've been talking to a federal defenders of these cases and of course they're going to do everything they can't to save their clients life and your new book the you it. It's more of a recounting of your life story in terms of how you're your own journey from a child in louisiana. What's suit. Could you talk about how you you developed. I in in your ministry <hes> in in when you decided to go into prison ministry yeah yeah i mean it's called river of fire and the epigraph in it is from saint bonaventure. Ask not for understanding ask for the fire fire. The fire part was when the passion and my own soul erupted that i can't just ask god to solve the problems of the world are it just be charitable to the people around me but that the deepest dimensions of the gospel of jesus called me to justice so i got involved with poor people in new orleans african americans who became my teachers helped me understand what white privilege is helped me understand what institutional racism and it's while while i was in that soil in that terrain living among african american people struggling against poverty and racism. I got an invitation one day to write a man on death row. I i never dreamed it was going to be executed. It was in the early eighties and we hadn't had an execution in twenty years a wrote a letter to he wrote back in two and a half years years later he was executed and that's the fire because i describe it in the preface. In the book they killed a man with fire fire. One night they strapped him in wooden chair and pumped electricity through his body until he was dead. His killing was a legal act. No oh religious leaders protested the killing that night but always there are saw it with my own eyes and what i saw set my soul on fire a fire that burns me still so i- traced my journey of spiritual awakening from private religion being apolitical. I pulled it a call to rolling up my sleeves and getting engaged with if justice is going to come then we have to be the ones to do it and in our democracy in our country so i've had constant dialogue with mike church the catholic church people first of all also the hark but mostly host the people and i've seen how that dialogue pays off finally on august second two thousand eighteen after sixteen hundred years pope francis declared under no conditions. Could we ever trust governments to execute their citizens so we need love your your country. When you love your church you keep up constant dialogue of what needs to change and helping to make that change happen. I wanted to go back in time to that film. <hes> that so rock this nation <hes> dead man walking <hes> that starred susan sarandon and sean penn <hes> based on your first book. I wanted to go to a trailer of that film. John"