Sister Helen Prejean as she visits with the convicted murderer, Matthew Poncelet, during the final week before his state-ordered execution. Through her ministries as a nun, Sister Prejean works in the poor African-American St. Thomas Projects of New Orleans and first comes into contact with Poncelet through his letters sent to her order. She responds to Poncelet's letter, which leads her to visit Poncelet in jail. Though inexperienced in criminal chaplaincy, Sister Prejean becomes Poncelet's spiritual counselor and connects Poncelet with lawyer Hilton Barber, who helps Poncelet appeal his conviction with the State Board of Capital Punishment, Governor Benedict of Louisianna, and the State of Louisianna Supreme Court without success. After Mr. Delecroix, one of the victims' father, scolds Sister Prejean on helping Poncelet, Sister Prejean visits the victims' families and listens, teary-eyed, to their stories of pain, suffering, and anguish. Comforted with a tidal wave of opposition and criticism, Sister Prejean helps Matthew Poncelet come to terms with the responsibility of the murders and rape he committed. She sings hymns, reads the Bible, and rests a loving hand on Matt's shoulder as he walks to his death by lethal injection.