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“River of Fire”: In New Memoir, Sister Helen Prejean Reflects on Decades of Fighting Executions

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The Trump administration is moving ahead with plans to resume the death penalty after a more than 15-year moratorium. This week Attorney General William Barr proposed fast-tracking executions in mass murder cases, and last month ordered the execution of five death row prisoners beginning in December. The federal government has executed just three people since 1963 — the last being in 2003. The death penalty is widely condemned by national governments, international bodies and human rights groups across the world. Experts say capital punishment does not help deter homicides and that errors and racism in the criminal justice system extend to those sentenced to death. We speak with Sister Helen Prejean, a well-known anti-death-penalty activist who began her prison ministry over 30 years ago. She is the author of the best-selling book “Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty,” which was turned into an Academy Award-winning film starring Susan Sarandon and Sean Penn. …

US hopes Malawi gay pardon sends message 'around the globe'

Washington - The White House Saturday said it was "pleased" to hear that a gay couple in Malawi had been pardoned from a long prison sentence and hoped the decision would open new dialogue and send a global message.

In a statement, the White House press secretary was reacting to the decision by Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika to grant the pardon, which came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited the country.

The couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, (pictured) had been sentenced to 14 years in prison after they openly celebrated their engagement. Homosexual acts are banned in the southern African country.

"We hope that President Mutharika's pardon marks the beginning of a new dialogue which reflects the country's history of tolerance and a new day for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in Malawi and around the globe," the White House said.

The White House called for a renewed commitment to "ending the persecution and criminalization of sexual orientation and gender identity."

Malawian's views on homosexuality are shared by many people in Africa, where gays suffer widespread discrimination, repression and, sometimes, violence.

The parliament of the central African nation of Uganda, where homosexuality is already prohibited, is considering a bill that would increase the penalties for homosexual acts from 14 years in jail to life, or even the death penalty, for some acts.

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has described gays as "worse than dogs and pigs."

Source: EarthTimes, May 29, 2010

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