(RNS) — In a call hailed by non secular leaders who’ve taken up his trigger, an Oklahoma parole board voted to suggest commutation of the dying sentence of Julius Jones, who has been on dying row for 20 years.
The Rev. Cece Jones-Davis, the Justice for Julius marketing campaign director, mentioned she considered the advice Monday (Sept. 13) of “life with the opportunity of parole” as paving the best way for Jones to depart jail comparatively quickly due to the time he has already served.
“Right now, God received,” Jones-Davis mentioned in a press release to Faith Information Service on Monday. “Julius Jones is one step nearer to realizing Justice as a result of The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board voted 3-1 for Julius’ sentence to be commuted off of dying row! They noticed the deserves of the case as they’re, had been moved by compassion, and did the best factor. I’m past grateful to them.”
Jones, a Black man, was convicted of killing a white businessman throughout a carjacking. Two folks have signed sworn affidavits stating that another person is accountable for the crime. An inmate in Arkansas, talking by way of a video launched in March, has made an identical assertion.
In his petition for commutation, Jones mentioned he was harmless.
“(A)s God is my witness, I used to be not concerned in any manner within the crimes that led to Paul Howell being shot and killed on July 28, 1999,” he wrote. “I’ve spent the previous twenty years on dying row for a criminal offense I didn’t commit, didn’t witness, and was not at.”
Clergy from throughout the U.S. have advocated for Jones, 41, holding in-person rallies, on-line occasions and letter-writing campaigns in hopes of getting him clemency and, some hope, launch from jail.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt will think about the board’s suggestion and will deny it, approve it or change the commutation to life with out parole or time served, the Justice for Julius marketing campaign mentioned.
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“In dying penalty instances, there ought to be little doubt and, put merely, I’ve doubts about this case,” mentioned Adam Luck, chair of the parole board, in a recording of the announcement of his board’s votes on the web site of KOCO, the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma Metropolis. “I can’t ignore these doubts, particularly when the stakes are life and dying. Because of this, my vote is sure and I like to recommend commuting the sentence to life with the opportunity of parole.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Dallas megachurch pastor, had written to Stitt and to the parole board expressing concern about Jones’ case. On Monday, Jakes described the board’s determination as a solution to prayers.
“We’re not asking for mercy; we’re asking for justice,” he mentioned in a press release to RNS. “Primarily based on what we all know, killing Mr. Jones could be an injustice. We implore Governor Stitts to bear this critically necessary truth in thoughts as he ponders his determination.”
The Rev. Jim Wallis, the founding father of Sojourners and now director of the Middle on Religion and Justice at Georgetown College, additionally wrote to the governor and the board citing causes for why Jones ought to obtain a commutation.
“The vote recommending commutation of Julius Jones dying sentence represents three issues: That the proof of racism, the necessity for equity within the rule of regulation, and the involvement of religion and justice communities could make a distinction,” Wallis mentioned in a press release to RNS. “As we are saying, Thanks be to God.”
A few of Jones’ supporters gathered at an Oklahoma Metropolis church and celebrated with prayers and speeches after the board listening to. However additionally they remembered the household of Howell, who they consider was killed by somebody aside from Jones.
“I don’t need anyone right here to mistake our celebration immediately that we don’t care about what occurs to that household,” mentioned Minister Keith Jossell, certainly one of a number of audio system on the Justice for Julius occasion. “We serve a large enough God who can rejoice with us and luxury them of their ache.”
Jones-Davis, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, began the coalition after watching Viola Davis’ ABC documentary sequence “The Final Protection,” which featured Jones’ case. Jones-Davis just isn’t associated to both the actress and producer or Julius Jones.
Responding to the tweeted announcement from the Justice for Julius marketing campaign, Davis tweeted “OMG!!!! My coronary heart! It simply expanded!!!”
Shane Claiborne, writer of “Executing Grace: How the Loss of life Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us,” additionally tweeted about his appreciation of the board’s determination and his fellow advocates.
“YES!!!!!!!!! Grateful for all the parents who’ve been working for thus a few years,” mentioned Claiborne, who had mentioned he believed Jones was harmless.
Oklahoma County District Legal professional Daniel Prater had urged the parole board to disclaim Jones’ utility, saying, The Related Press reported in March, that the prisoner is “fueling a media circus with outright lies.”
Oklahoma’s legal professional common has requested that the Oklahoma Courtroom of Prison Appeals set an execution date of Oct. 28 for Jones.
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