Central City Opera's

Symposium - Prisons, Compassion & Redemption Project

Now available: watch the March 13th Symposium online!

Thursday, March 13, 2014
3:30 to 5:30 pm

Greek Orthodox Metropolis Cathedral of Denver, Glendale
4610 E Alameda Ave
Denver, CO 80246 [map]

Join panelists Sister Helen Prejean, opera composer Jake Heggie, DA George Brauchler of Arapahoe County, Defense Mitigation Specialist Greta Lindecrantz and victim survivor Dana Sampson for a symposium on the death penalty and other themes related to Dead Man Walking. FREE admission. 

Moderated by DU Constitutional Rights and Remedies program; sponsored by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce

This event is part of the Prisons, Compassion and Redemption Project, exploring the themes of Dead Man Walking.


Sister Helen Prejean, Author of the book Dead Man Walking 
Jake Heggie, Composer of the opera Dead Man Walking
George H. Brauchler, District Attorney
Dana Sampson, victim survivor
Greta Lindecrantz, Defense Mitigation specialist
Moderated by Sam Kamin, Director, Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program at Denver Law

Sister 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. A member of the Congregation of St. Joseph, she travels around the world giving talks about her ministry.
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 and later 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 been educating citizens about the death penalty and counseling death row prisoners, accompanying six men to their deaths. Suspecting that some of those executed were not guilty, she wrote the book The Death of Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions.
Sr. Helen is presently at work on another book, River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey. www.sisterhelen.org
Jake Heggie is the American composer of the operas Moby-Dick, Dead Man Walking, Three Decembers, To Hell and Back, and Out of Darkness: a triptych of Holocaust stories. He has also composed more than 250 songs, as well as chamber, choral and orchestral works. The operas – most created with the distinguished writers Terrence McNally and Gene Scheer – have been produced extensively on five continents. Dead Man Walking (McNally) has received 40 productions since its premiere, as well as two live recordings. Heggie, a Guggenheim Fellow, has served as a mentor to Washington National Opera's American Opera Initiative for young composers and librettists for the past two seasons. www.jakeheggie.com
George H. Brauchler is the District Attorney of the Eighteenth Judicial District, which includes Arapahoe, Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln Counties.  The Eighteenth Judicial District currently has four death penalty cases – more than any other judicial district in the state. Mr. Brauchler is an experienced prosecutor and civil trial attorney, a national trainer of prosecutors, and a U.S. Army Reserve Judge Advocate General officer.  Mr. Brauchler has taught criminal procedure and advanced trial advocacy at the University Of Denver College Of Law and the University of Colorado school of Law from 2002 until the present. From 2006 through 2011 he guest hosted talk News Radio 850 KOA and 630 KHOW.
Dana Sampson, one of three daughters of Richard and Lynn Ehlenfeldt, lost her parents just prior to her 21st birthday in the Browns Chicken massacre in Palantine, IL on January 8, 1993. The horrific and brutal crime went unsolved for nine years but eventually two men were arrested and charged. The first trial was five years after the arrests and the second trial was another two years after that. Both men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole though both have appealed the verdicts. The Ehlenfeldt sisters did not seek the death penalty.  
Dana now resides in Gilbert, AZ with her husband of 18 years and four children.  Ms. Sampson works as a Physical Therapist for Banner Home Care. The middle sister of three girls (Jennifer and Joy), she grew up in the midwest with loving, caring parents who taught compassion for others and instilled the importance of helping people and giving back to others.  
Greta Lindecrantz has two disparate roles for defense legal teams as a Mitigation Specialist and a Defense Initiated Victim Outreach (DIVO). As a mitigation specialist she works with the defense team and experts to develop a comprehensive and cohesive mitigation case for presentation in the penalty phase of a death penalty trial.  Among other things, Greta compiles a comprehensive and well-documented psycho-social history of the client based on exhaustive investigation and record collection and analyzes the significance of the information in terms of impact on the defendant to find mitigating themes in the client’s life.  As a DIVO, Greta serves as an advocate on behalf of victim survivors to the defense team by engaging in dialogue with the victim survivors to ensure that their interests, needs, and concerns are being conveyed to the defense attorneys throughout the death penalty judicial proceedings. In this role, Greta worked with Dana Sampson’s family.
Panel Moderator, Sam Kamin, (Director, Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program at Denver Law) joined the faculty at the Sturm College of Law in 1999.  Holding both a JD and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, Professor Kamin is active in the Law and Society Association and in the field of law and social science generally. Professor Kamin’s research interests include criminal procedure, death penalty jurisprudence, federal courts and constitutional remedies. He is the co-author of two books analyzing California’s “three strikes and you’re out” law and has published scholarly articles in the Virginia Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, Boston College Law Journal and Law and Contemporary Problems, among others.