The Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 – or AEDPA – is something everyone should know about. President Bill Clinton, with support from then-Senator Joe Biden, signed the notorious 1994 Crime Bill, which helped strengthen mass incarceration. But he signed this, too, and it’s extremely harmful.
AEDPA was a horrible attack on the constitutional principle known as “habeas corpus,” which gives people the right to challenge their imprisonment. For decades, it has blocked people from proving they were wrongfully convicted.
Despite the fact that exonerations have been at an all time high, it remains intact – blocking wrongful convictions from being overturned. It was originally done to speed up the conviction and execution of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, but it affected far more than just him.
This deadly law neglects the fact that people are detained, imprisoned, and killed in the prison system without ever receiving a fair trial or despite serious errors with “evidence.” People are even executed despite how credible their claims may be! It needs to stop.
AEDPA is a disturbing law that needs to be repealed immediately. While many know what the Crime Bill is, it’s up to people who know about AEDPA to spread the word. We need to organize against anything that gives the system more power to kill us just because it can!