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The families do not understand Sister Helen's efforts to help Poncelet, claiming she is "taking his side." Instead they desire "absolute justice"—his life for the lives of their children.
Sister Helen's application for a pardon is declined.
Later, she started dating actor Tim Robbins who she met while playing in Bull Durham in 1988. Following the unexpected split, she came close to Jonathan Bricklin, son of Malcolm Bricklin.
She amassed a net worth of about million as of 2019.
At the 46th Berlin International Film Festival, Penn won the Silver Bear for Best Actor.
At the Golden Globes, Sarandon and Penn received nominations for their acting while Robbins received one for best screenplay.
Poncelet, held in the Louisiana State Penitentiary, committed the crimes with a man named Carl Vitello, who was sentenced to life imprisonment.
As the day of his execution comes closer, Poncelet asks Sister Helen, with whom he has corresponded, to help him with a final appeal. He is arrogant, sexist, and racist, not even pretending to feel remorse.
He affirms his innocence, insisting Vitello killed the two teenagers.
Convincing an experienced attorney to take on Poncelet's case pro bono, Sister Helen tries to have his sentence commuted to life imprisonment.
Besides acting, she is also known for her social and political activism for a range of causes.