Matthew, played by Sean Penn, is a convicted rapist/murderer who is counselled by a nun named Sister Helen, played by Susan Sarandon.
Sister Helen is determined to reach Matthew on an humanistic level to help him to understand himself and his actions and truly repent them before he is executed.
She manages to break through his uneducated and ignorant exterior and leads him to salvation in the nick of time.
He is executed while Sister Helen stands strong to give him comfort; the victims' parents' grief is somewhat eased, but everyone learns from the experience of the poisonous power of hate.
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