An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.  - Gandhi

Julius Jones: Oklahoma recommends taking man off death row weeks before execution, citing ‘inherently wrong’ case

By Josh Marcus San Francisco, The Independent, Nov. 1, 2021

The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended three-to-one that death row inmate Julius Jones’ upcoming execution should be stopped. The vote comes just weeks before he was set to be killed via lethal injection as the state restarts its controversial execution program, six years after a series of bungled executions.

“Ordinarily during a parole hearing, we are charged with the responsibility of giving the inmates some choices about their future,” board member Larry Morris said on Monday, as the panel announced its recommendation, which will now go to the Oklahoma governor for a final decision.

“In this particular case, it’s been stepped up a notch,” he added, saying their vote decides “whether or not this young man even has a future”.

The high-profile inmate, scheduled to be executed on 18 November, should instead get a life sentence with the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 1999 murder of businessman Paul Howell in the Oklahoma City suburbs, the board concluded. The board made a similar recommendation in September, a first in state history, as part of the death row commutation process.

Outside the Pardon and Parole Board offices, supporters of Jones, donning “Justice for Julius” t-shirts and face masks, hugged in celebration as they listened to a feed of the hearing.

“I feel like the right decision was made. After having this happen two times, that should compel our governor to want to go with the recommendation of life with the possibility of parole,” Jabee Williams, a friend of the Jones family and Justice for Julius activist, told The Independent. “Everybody’s happy but we’re still definitely mindful there’s a family that is probably going through a tough time right now. Everybody is definitely praying and lifting up the whole Howell family.”

Jones’ attorneys also praised the outcome. Julius is out of legal appeals, and clemency is the final forum through which he could get off death row.

“The Pardon and Parole Board has now twice voted in favor of commuting Julius Jones’s death sentence, acknowledging the grievous errors that led to his conviction and death sentence,” Jones’s public defender, Amanda Bass, said in a statement following the decision. “We hope that [Oklahoma] Governor [Kevin] Stitt will exercise his authority to accept the Board’s recommendation and ensure that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man.”

Madeline Davis-Jones, Jones’ mother, said she was grateful for the board’s ruling, but that more work needed to be done to get her son off death row.

“I feel good but we still got more steps to go,” she told reporters outside the hearing room. “I just thank God and I thank the people of Oklahoma. I thank God and bless the Parole Board and God. I feel good, good all over.”

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