To the Editor:
The AEDPA law mentioned in Ben Jones’ column “Still, candidates avoid death-penalty debate” (3/26) is affecting my father, Alabama death row inmate, Thomas Arthur Z-427. Alabama is the only state in the United States that does not provide or guarantee attorneys for death row inmates during post-conviction appeals.
He did not have an attorney and his appeals were filed late (AEDPA law). He has never had his first Habeas Corpus Review or rule 32. In November 2007, DNA testing of the crime scene evidence was denied by the United States Supreme Court (USSC) because of the AEDPA Act.
My father was scheduled twice for execution: September and December 2006. The first was stayed because I put so much media attention on the governor, the second was stayed by the USSC while they awaiting their decision on cruel and unusual punishment.
What the USSC should be talking about is the AEDPA Act and how it is denying death row inmates their rights to new trials that could show evidence that can prove their innocence. There are two sets of victims when a crime is committed: the family and loved ones of the victim, and the family and loved ones of the condemned. Is either set going to have justice or closure if the state legally murders the wrong person? Now, that is cruel and unusual punishment.
Can you imagine how it feels to sit with your father just hours away from his legalized murder by the state when there is DNA testing that, if done, could prove his innocence? I can, because I had to do it twice. So did the family and loved ones of the victim. Troy Davis’ example exemplifies other failings of the AEDPA Act. But there are many more.
Both Davis and my father will be legally murdered by the state because they filed their paperwork late.
This is not justice. It is a flawed system that must be discussed by the presidential candidates.
The writer is the daughter of Alabama death row inmate Thomas Arthur Z-427.