A Courageous Fool: Marie McFadden Deans and her Struggle Against the Death Penalty recognizes the late Marie McFadden Deans and will be published later this month by Vanderbilt University Press. Marie is one of the unsung heroes from the early years of the fight against the modern death penalty. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Marie worked with the men
Marie is one of the unsung heroes from the early years of the fight against the modern death penalty. In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Marie worked with the men of South Carolina’s death row. In 1983, Marie moved to Richmond, Virginia and opened the Virginia Coalition on Jails and Prisons. For the next ten years, Marie worked to improve death row prison conditions and find appeals lawyers for the men of the row. She helped fully or partially exonerate three different death row inmates (including fully exonerated death row inmate Earl Washington, Jr.), and she stood “death watch” with countless men. After the Coalition closed in 1993, Marie worked as a mitigation specialist in over 200 capital murder trials. Marie served on several national death penalty organizations, including AI USA and the NCADP. She was also the founder of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation. Marie’s work on death row took a terrible physical and mental toll, and she died at the relatively young age of 70 – as much a victim of the “machinery of death” as the men she fought to save. More information about Marie, her work, and the book can be found here.