Exploring HeinOnline: Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996

Coming Soon to the U.S. Federal Legislative History Library

Public Law 104-132, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) of 1996, was passed into law on April 24, 1996 for the purpose of deterring terrorism, providing justice for victims, providing for an effective death penalty as well as other purposes.  Drafted and passed in part due to the Oklahoma City bombings and the World Trade Center Bombings, the AEDPA had a significant impact on the law of habeas corpus in the U.S. as applicable to state and federal prisoners on death row or imprisoned for a term of years. Through the passing of the AEDPA, the following amendments were instituted to the federal habeas corpus law:

  • The abuse-of-the-writ doctrine was replaced with an absolute bar on second or successive petitions
  • 1 year statute of limitations was created
  • 6 month statute of limitation created in death penalty cases
  • States were encouraged to appoint counsel for indigent state death row inmates during state habeas or unitary appellate proceedings
  • Petitioners who had filed a previous federal habeas petition were required to secure authorization from the federal court of appeals
Additional provisions were included in this act that addressed justice for victims; international terrorism prohibitions; terrorist and criminal alien removal and exclusion; nuclear, biological and chemical weapons restrictions; implementation of plastic explosives convention; criminal law modifications to counter terrorism; and assistance to law enforcement.

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