Can Susan Sarandon help save a man’s life?
The Oscar-winning actress has been recruited by one of the characters she played — Sister Helen Prejean, a nun and activist for abolishing the death penalty — to help get a stay of execution granted for 52-year-old death row inmate Richard Glossip.
“Sister Helen Prejean called me and convinced me that this guy, Richard Glossip, was innocent and needed another chance to have better representation to present new information that would establish a reasonable doubt as to his guilt and save him from being executed,” Sarandon told People magazine.
Glossip was sentenced to death for his alleged role in the 1997 killing of Barry Van Treese, who was beaten to death in an Oklahoma motel. Another man confessed to the murder, but told police Glossip, who was the motel’s handyman, paid him to do it. The other man was sentenced to life in prison without parole following a plea deal.
“Since the only real option we had is press, because [Glossip] has gone through a number of trials and has exhausted that route, I decided to help,” Sarandon said of her involvement, which included signing her own name on petitions and gathering more than 150,000 other signatures urging Oklahoma governor, Mary Fallin, to grant the stay.
Glossip is scheduled for lethal injection on Sept. 16, only three weeks away.
“We’re hoping that the governor will give a stay and ask for a clemency hearing so they can look at this information that hasn’t really been looked at before,” Sarandon said. “The only thing linking Richard Glossip to the murder is the testimony of the murderer, who was 19 at the time, and gave eight statements that all contradict each other.”
Sarandon described the death penalty as “arbitrary and capricious,” adding, “Even if you’re for the death penalty, it’s been showed time and time again that the way we deal with it is not a deterrent, it’s not fair, and it’s extremely expensive. If that money were put to other use, you could have better education, and better infrastructure in this country.”