With nearly 24 hours before Julius Jones’ planned execution, his supporters are rallying at the Oklahoma State Capitol and across Oklahoma City to express their support for leniency.
Jones’ execution is slated for Thursday afternoon, despite widespread and bipartisan concerns about his case.
The Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board recommended commutation, then leniency, for Jones, but the decision ultimately rests with Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt, who has not announced his decision. Wednesday afternoon. Two of the three votes to recommend clemency for Jones came from board members appointed by Stitt.
UPDATE: November 17, 2021 at 10:48 p.m. CST
As the sun set on what could be Jones’ last full day on Wednesday, neither he nor his family knew if the Governor would spare his life.
âLike I said, I don’t feel like anyone. I don’t even feel like a number. My son is, right now, a number,â said Madeline Davis-Jones, Julius’ mother.
She and other supporters held vigils for weeks, praying that Stitt would follow the recommendation of the Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board. Supporters have accused Stitt of cruelty for keeping Jones and the family in the dark for the last few hours.
They proceeded to a lectern at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday at 4 p.m., 24 hours before the scheduled execution, after a short visit to McAlester Prison where the death row inmate is located. ‘Oklahoma.
Jones’ spiritual advisor Reverend Keith Jossell noted that Jones and his mother had not been allowed into the same room for more than two decades.
âThey always have to watch him behind a wall and can’t even touch their loved one. Something is wrong, Oklahoma, with the Department of Corrections,â Jossell said.
In the days leading up to Jones’ planned execution, his family and supporters have been peaceful amid the most difficult circumstances. Group prayer, moments of silence and the singing of hymns have become commonplace.
Late Wednesday, Ebenezer Baptist Church pastor Derrick Scobey led dozens of people in a self-proclaimed act of civil disobedience by standing in the middle of NE 23rd Street, between a vigil and the governor’s mansion. They raised their hands and chanted, âFree Julius Jones!
After officers repeatedly asked him and others to clear the street, Scobey was arrested. He then begged the rest of the protesters to clear the street and go behind the barricades, which they did.
During the most tense moments of the night, those responsible for the vigil chanted, “We will not disrespect Mama Jones. We will not disrespect Antoinette,” in reference to Julius’ mother and sister. .
Many in the crowd quickly dispersed, intending to meet again early Thursday morning.
Here’s why Julius Jones’ fate belongs to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt
UPDATE: November 17, 2021 at 6:40 p.m. CST
Many people may be familiar with the fact that the United States Supreme Court is weighing down an execution hours before its scheduled date. But that won’t happen here because Jones has already exhausted all of his calls.
Jones used all of his legal options, said Vanessa Potkin, director of special litigation at the Innocence Project who advised the case.
âOnce your legal claims are exhausted, it’s extremely difficult to get back to court,â Potkin said. “There has to be a legal basis. And so leniencyâ¦ exists for people like Julius whoâ¦ have gone through legal process, and yet still have a claim of innocence or some other reason for you preventing an execution.”
The Takeaway speaks with a member of Jones’ legal delegation
UPDATE: November 17, 2021 at 6:08 p.m. CST
On Wednesday, The Takeaway spoke with Oklahoma-based lawyer Kelli Masters, who was part of Jones’ legal delegation during his switch hearing in September.
Masters was initially skeptical of Jones’ innocence, but after reviewing the evidence, he was convinced Jones had been wrongly convicted.
Take-out host Melissa Harris-Perry also shared her thoughts on Jones’ case and his pending execution.
âI’m not sure Julius Jones is innocent,â Harris-Perry said. “But more importantly, the state of Oklahoma is not sure Julius Jones is guilty.”
Listen to the full interview below:
Citing execution flaws, Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board recommends leniency for Bigler Stouffer
UPDATE: November 17, 2021 at 5:58 p.m. CST
The Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board met on Wednesday as three of its five members recommended clemency for another death row inmate, Bigler Jobe Stouffer II. The commission’s recommendation for leniency is for life without parole.
While the board has expressed concerns over Jones’ innocence, this was not the case for Stouffer, who was convicted of the 1985 shooting death of the elementary school teacher. from Putnam City, Linda Reaves.
The five board members said they believed Stouffer was guilty, but those who voted for leniency said they had serious issues with what happened with the executions in Oklahoma. .
“The last four [executions] if you go back six or seven years, well, that process is obviously flawed. We have had individuals on the table suffering for 20 and 30 minutes, âsaid Larry Morris, Board Member. âI don’t think a human society should execute people this way, until we figure out how to do it right. “
Security increases at the Capitol, the governor’s mansion
UPDATE: November 17, 2021 at 4:18 p.m. CST
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is stepping up security this week at the governor’s mansion and state capital ahead of Stitt’s decision whether or not to grant Jones clemency.
It comes after supporters of Jones took part in peaceful protests at both locations. Barriers have been placed along NE 23rd Street, next to the Governor’s Mansion. Stitt and his family do not reside in the Governor’s mansion, but rather in a private residence in Edmond.
According to a press release, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is ready to act if rallies or protests turn violent.
In an email sent to staff and members, the Oklahoma House of Representatives offices will close at noon on Thursday and all non-essential employees will be able to leave at that time. No reason has been given for the early shutdown as lawmakers hold a special session on redistribution.
Jones’s execution is scheduled for Thursday afternoon at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. The Oklahoma Pardons and Parole Board recommended leniency for Jones. Now it’s up to Stitt to make the final decision.
Hundreds of Oklahoma City students walk out of classrooms
ORIGINAL POSITION: November 17, 2021 at 2:59 p.m. CST
On Wednesday, across Oklahoma City, hundreds of high school students walked out of their classrooms and rallied to ask for clemency for Jones.
Student activists from across town gathered on their school grounds or marched to the state capital. Reported walkouts include those at John Marshall, Classen SAS, Putnam City West, Putnam City North, Star Spencer, and Harding Charter Preparatory High School.
Oklahoma City Public Schools expressed support for the students for expressing their views in a statement to reporters.
“OKCPS supports the rights of our students to peaceful assembly and their freedom of expression,” the statement read. âWe worked closely with the students and student groups who wanted to come together today to provide a safe space for them to express themselves on a topic they are passionate about. “
Jones was an honorary student and a two-sports athlete at John Marshall High School in Oklahoma City. He graduated from school in 1998. A year later he was arrested and charged with murder in the carjacking and the shooting death of Paul Howell.