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There have been many heroes and victims in the battle to abolish the death penalty, and Marie Deans fits into both of those categories. A South Carolina native who yearned to be a fiction writer, Marie was thrust by a combination of circumstances―including the murder of her beloved mother-in-law―into a world much stranger than fiction, a world in which minorities and the poor were selected to be sacrificed to what Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun called the "machinery of death."

Marie found herself fighting to bring justice to the legal process and to bring humanity not only to prisoners on death row but to the guards and wardens as well. During Marie's time as a death penalty opponent in South Carolina and Virginia, she experienced the highs of helping exonerate the innocent and the lows of standing death watch in the death house with thirty-four condemned men.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Todd C. Peppers 

Todd Peppers is a professor of political science in the Department of Public Affairs at Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia as well as a visiting professor of law at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia. As a researcher and author, he writes about judicial institutions, legal history, and capital punishment. Specifically, his interest in the history of law clerks in the federal judiciary was triggered by serving as a law clerk to a federal district court judge in Omaha, Nebraska and a federal magistrate judge in Roanoke, Virginia; his interest in capital punishment was sparked by a chance encounter with Laura Anderson, who served as a spiritual adviser to a death row inmate named Douglas Christopher Thomas. 

ABOUT THE CO-AUTHOR, Margaret A. Anderson 

Anderson is a graduate of Roanoke College (B.A. in Political Science) and the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. She served as a Staff Assistant and Legislative Correspondent for United States Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) for a total of three years, where she worked on agriculture, environment, appropriations, and budget policy. She is the co-author of an article titled "Undergraduate Research on UR Leads to College-Wide Change," which was published in CUR Quarterly in 2012. Anderson is currently a graduate student at the University of Virginia where she is getting her Master’s in Public Policy Analysis.

Want to hear more from Dr. Peppers?

Read Anatomy of an Execution: The Life and Death of Douglas Christopher Thomas 
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