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Symposium on Dead Man Walking: the Opera Reflections on Capital Punishment, Law and Art

Date: Thursday, March 3, 2016

Time: 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Contact: Isabel Medina · medina@loyno.edu

Location: College of Law, Broadway Campus 308


This program, planned to coincide with the New Orleans premiere by the New Orleans
Opera of the Dead Man Walking on Friday, March 4, 2016 at the Mahalia Jackson
Theatre for the Performing Arts, explores the intersection of art and law
specifically in the context of the death penalty.   

In 1994, Sister Helen Prejean�s book, Dead Man Walking:  An Eyewitness Account of
the Death Penalty, brought national attention to the death penalty, in particular,
as it was practiced in Louisiana.  Two years later, the book was made into an
award-winning film.  In 2000, the book was the basis for an opera first presented by
the San Francisco Opera, composed by Jake Heggie with libretto by Terrance McNally. 
The opera has been performed in Australia, Canada, Dresden, Germany, Vienna,
Austria, and Sweden and throughout the United States.  

Since publication of Dead Man Walking, the United States Supreme Court has
considered challenges to some aspects of the death penalty throughout the United
States, including Louisiana.  The law on the death sentence has developed
incrementally, with the Court increasingly open to enforcing limitations on capital
sentencing schemes and in particular on the categories of individuals who may be
subject to the death penalty.  This symposium brings together Sister Helen Prejean,
Robert Lyall, the artistic director of the New Orleans Opera, and others to explore
the evolution of the death penalty, the lived experiences on death row, and the
powerful impact that literary works and other art forms may have on the development
of law.