Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP, New Orleans, LA

Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP

When a person goes to jail, it’s not just that person who suffers. Often, a family is left without a parent, or without a wage-earner. Bills pile up, and the family is thrown into chaos.

As a death penalty mitigation specialist for the Capital Defense Project of Southeast Louisiana, Sr. Kathy Broussard knows that better than almost anyone. When she received a Sisters on the Front Line grant from The Leadership Collaborative and Catholic Extension, through the generosity of the GHR Foundation, she knew who to help. (Please note that we cannot use real names due to privacy issues.)

Jane is a middle-aged woman in Shreveport, Louisiana. She receives $700 dollars a month in disability; her son used to help her pay her bills, but he is now facing the death penalty. Jane took a side job, but when her employer died, she lost that extra income. She has since developed pneumonia and is on oxygen. While Sr. Kathy and her team work to help Jane’s son avoid the death penalty, they can see she is suffering as well.

When Sr. Kathy called her to tell her that, thanks to the #SistersontheFrontLine grant, she would be able to help, Jane started to cry. She had given up hope that she would be able to pay her electricity bill and had turned it over to God. Sr. Kathy felt blessed to be a part of the solution, saying “I am happy that I could be God’s hand in answering her prayers.”

Susan’s husband is facing the death penalty. Susan and her husband have been together for 19 years; their three children are all in school. She was injured in a car accident and lost her job during the pandemic. Her husband was laid off due to the pandemic before he went to jail.

Susan has been trying to get a job while rehabbing from her injury, but there are few jobs available and no one wants to hire a person who is injured.

For a woman with three children who needs to get back to work, transportation is necessary. Sr. Kathy was able to pay her back car insurance bill and her water bill.

Sr. Kathy explains, “Our justice system claims that people are innocent until proven guilty, but most people seem to believe that you wouldn’t have been arrested if you hadn’t done something wrong. They consider our clients sub-human and believe that they and their families are not worthy of assistance, even though many have mental health issues, and all are indigent.  

“It’s hard enough to see your loved one facing the death penalty – these families should not have to worry about their next meal or their safety.

“I am grateful to The Leadership Collaborative and Catholic Extension for helping me bring hope and love to these women and children.”

Posted in News

Peace and Justice Updates 1.27.2020

Stop Dangerous Pipelines
Last week we celebrated President Biden’s actions to stop Keystone XL, the pipeline to bring Canadian tar sands to the U.S. There’s a Keystone clone currently being built with similar impacts to climate and water – Line 3 in Minnesota.

Line 3 is one of the last major tar sands expansion projects in North America. It would damage the climate as much as 50 new coal plants and cut across the 1854 and 1855 treaty territory of the Anishinaabe people.

Over the last six years, a powerful Indigenous-led movement of water protectors, land defenders, and ordinary citizens has grown to resist this dangerous pipeline.

Stand with them by telling President Biden to also act to stop Line 3!

Reunite Families Unjustly Separated
In this moment of peaceful transition toward a recommitted democracy, we must make sure the Biden administration keeps its promise of bringing families together. Edith Espinal and Miriam Vargas are two mothers that deserve this promise to ring true. They have both been denied the opportunity to be reunited with their families until now.

Edith has been in sanctuary at Columbus Mennonite Church since October 2017 and Miriam at First English Lutheran Church since June 2018. As we began the process of reconciliation, our Congress must act now and do more than pause the current deportation laws. Let’s start by getting Edith and Miriam home with their families.

Call Rep. Joyce Beatty and Sen. Sherrod Brown today and encourage them to call the Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on behalf of both Edith and Miriam.

Protect Essential Workers
Throughout the pandemic, essential workers have borne the brunt of Covid-19’s devastating health and financial impacts, exposing themselves and family members to the deadly virus to maintain the flow of critical food, other goods and services to communities in every corner of our nation. Many undocumented workers have done all of this while being excluded from previous COVID-19 stimulus bills, health insurance, and access to affordable healthcare.

Please sign here to urge Members of Congress to include an amendment to the latest pandemic relief legislation bill which will provide a path to citizenship and protections for undocumented essential workers and their family members.

Tell the New Biden Administration to Dismantle the Federal Death Penalty
For the first time in U.S. history, we have a president who openly opposes the death penalty. President Biden was inaugurated just five days after the 13th and final execution in the Trump administration’s killing spree. While we welcome this return to federal execution dormancy, now is not the time to slow down our advocacy.

Please sign Catholic Mobilizing Network’s petition urging President Biden to prioritize the dismantling of the federal death penalty.

Sign Up To View the United Nations Social Development Commission
The Commission for Social Development Forum will be held February 8-17, 2021. The forum addresses social protection floors. The priority theme for this year is: ‘Socially-just transition towards sustainable development: the role of digital technologies on social development and well-being of all.’ Registration closes today, January 27. To be part of the virtual program, click here.

March 14-26, 2021, begins the Commission on the Status of Women: Beijing 25+1. You can follow the planning of the conference here.

The Priority theme is: ‘Women’s full and effective participation and decision-making in public life, as well as the elimination of violence, for achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls.’

Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Peace and Justice Updates 10.28.2020

“Fake News” About Human Trafficking Hurts Real Relief Efforts
USCSAHT has signed onto a joint letter of over 80 anti-trafficking organizations in a united message denouncing the QAnon conspiracy theories related to trafficking that are distracting and harming the actual good work happening to prevent and end human trafficking.

Please click here to read the entire letter.

LCWR Newsletter, November 2020
Here are some highlights from the most recent LCWR newsletter.

  • Faith Leaders Call on Senators to Lead Global COVID-19 Response, p. 5
  • Catholics Call on Attorney General Barr to Protect Children from Online Trafficking, p. 6
  • Faith Community Outraged by Administration’s Devastation of the US Refugee Program, p. 6

Click here to read the entire newsletter.

More Federal Executions Scheduled
On December 8th the federal government will execute Lisa Montgomery for her murder of Bobbie Jo Stinnett. This will be the first federal execution of a woman since 1953. On December 10th, International Human Rights Day, they have lined up another black man, Brandon Bernard, who will be killed for his participation in the murders of Todd and Stacie Bagley.

Death Penalty Action suggests these actions that you can take to make your voice heard.


Posted in Peace & Justice Weekly Updates

Death Penalty: Is the End of It Near?

Kathy Broussard, OP
Blog by Sr. Kathy Broussard, OP

Is the death penalty on its way out? It is not abolished, but there has been a significant shift in attitudes about the death penalty. I live in Louisiana, a staunch death penalty state, but even here, changes can be seen. Since May 11, 2002, 49 death sentences have been reversed, five people were exonerated from death row and one person was executed because he waived his appeals. The civil parish district attorneys are bringing fewer cases as death penalty cases. Continue reading →

Posted in Peace & Justice Blog