Reforms pushed by people who lost loved ones in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building have had a great impact on the death penalty appeals process for death row inmates.
This past week, attorneys general from across the country were in Oklahoma City for training on several topics, including the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996.
The act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and backed by several people who lost loved ones as a result of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. The bombing killed 168 people.
Nearly 13 years after the changes were put in place, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson says the reforms help to make the death penalty appeals process "more predictable” and still affect family members who once worried justice would hang in the balance during the appeals process.
"It was unpredictable before,” Edmondson said. "You never knew when the end of the appeals process was going to come. It was very frustrating to victims and their families.”
While prosecutors favor the measure, defense attorneys say the changes in federal appeals law were irresponsible.
"In short, it’s made it much simpler for states to kill people,” said Jack King, spokesman for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.