I oppose the death penalty.
Executing people to keep people from committing crimes has proven ineffectual.
Execution lowers us to the level of those who kill.
The violence of an execution feeds violence.
Execution negates any possibility of repentance and restoration.
And innocent blood could be shed. An innocent person could be executed,
Julius Jones may be innocent. The evidence points strongly in that direction. He has a petition for commutation before the Pardon and Parole Board. This Board can
Julius Jones sits on death row in Oklahoma, despite maintaining his innocence and despite compelling evidence that he may have been wrongfully convicted.
At the time of the crime for which he was convicted, Julius was a 19-year-old student athlete with a promising future, attending the University of Oklahoma on an academic scholarship. It is clear that Julius’ lawyer did not adequately defend him, and that explicit racial bias played a significant role in the process.. For example, his supporters point out that:
- Eyewitnesses place Mr. Jones at his parents’ home at the time of the murder, miles away from the crime scene.
- Mr. Jones’ co-defendant admitted to being involved in the crime and is now free after testifying against Julius. He was heard bragging that he “set Julius up.” Mr. Jones’ co-defendant matches the only eyewitness description of the shooter based on the length of his hair.
- Newly-discovered evidence shows that at least one juror harbored racial prejudice that influenced his vote to convict and sentence Mr. Jones to death. One juror reported telling the judge about another juror who said the trial was a waste of time and “they should just take the n***** out and shoot him behind the jail.”
Julius Jones, who is African American, was convicted and sentenced to death in 2002 for the murder of Paul Howell, a prominent white businessman, in 1999. There can be no justification for the murder of Paul Howell. It is a violation. It is tragic. But, an execution will not, can not bring Paul Howell back to life. An execution of the wrong person will also be a violation and a tragedy.