Abolitionists from around the country gathered for VADP's first Awards
Banquet on Saturday, May 1, 1999 in Charlottesville at the Doubletree Hotel.
Actor/Activist Mike Farrell and retired Federal District Judge Robert
R. Merhige helped VADP honor long time anti-death penalty activist
and founder of Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, Marie Deans,
and longtime Virginia capital case litigator Gerald Zerkin with
the Joseph M. Giarratano Award for "Truth in Action".
About Joe GiarratanoJoseph M. Giarratano came within 1 day of being executed in 1991 when Gov. Douglas Wilder granted clemency citing reasonable doubt of guilt. The Attorney General refused to grant Joe a new trial. Joe while on death row became a legal scholar, having been published in the Yale Law Journal and bringing Giarratano v Bass and Giarratano v Murray, cases which assured access to legal assistance.
He initiated an “Alternatives to Violence” program at Augusta Prison and after being transferred to prisons in Utah, where he uncovered human rights abuses and Illinois, is now incarcerated at Red Onion State Prison in Virginia where he continues to be an inspiration to fellow prisoners.
VADP is proud to name the award after Joe.
About Marie Deans
Marie Deans has been known as the “mother” of the anti death penalty
movement in Virginia. Since coming to Virginia in 1983, Marie has
fought endlessly for legal access, more humane conditions on Virginia’s
death row, and assuring legal representation
About Gerald Zerkin
Gerald Zerkin has been representing death row prisoners in Virginia
since 1980. His familiarity with Virginia capital case law has made
him one of the foremost experts in the field. He is well respected
amongst Judges and legislators for his knowledge of the law. He often
testifies in legislative committees and was amongst those responsible for
the creation of the Virginia Capital Representation Resource Center.