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Julius Jones

Julius Jones was scheduled to be executed on November 18, 2021. (Photo: Oklahoma Department of Corrections)

'Hallelujah!': Justice Advocates Rejoice at 11th-Hour Halt to Julius Jones Execution

"There is much to say about the problems with sentencing Julius Jones to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But today... an innocent man's life has been spared."

Brett Wilkins

Human rights advocates rejoiced Thursday after Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt heeded the advice of his state's pardon board—which found compelling evidence of the condemned man's innocence—and commuted the death sentence of Julius Jones to life imprisonment without parole with just hours to go before his scheduled execution.

"Now we organize to get Gov. Stitt out of office so Julius Jones can gain his full freedom back."

"After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones' sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole," Stitt, a Republican, said in a statement.

"Gov. Stitt took an important step today toward restoring public faith in the criminal justice system by ensuring Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man," Amanda Bass, one of Jones' attorneys, said in a statement. "We are grateful that the governor has prevented an irreparable mistake."

Forty-one-year-old Jones was sentenced to death in 2002 after being convicted by a nearly all-white jury—one of whose members said that "they should just take the nigger out and shoot him behind the jail"—for the murder of businessman Paul Scott Howell.

However, on September 13, the state pardons board—a majority of whose members were appointed by the Republican governor—voted 3-1 to recommend Stitt commute Jones' death sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. The board voted again to recommend clemency on November 1.

Millions of people around the world—including intellectuals, celebrities, and athletes—joined religious and political figures and institutions in calling for clemency for Jones.

Jim Wallis, director of the Center on Faith and Justice at Georgetown University, said that "there is much to say about the problems with sentencing Julius Jones to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But today is a day to rejoice in God's mercy and celebrate life. An innocent man's life has been spared. Hallelujah!"

While Stitt's clemency order was welcomed, justice advocates decried a stipulation that Jones "shall never again be eligible to apply for, be considered for, or receive any additional commutation, pardon, or parole."

"Now we organize to get Gov. Stitt out of office so Julius Jones can gain his full freedom back," tweeted artist and organizer Brisa Lauren. "Because not only does he not deserve to be executed, he does not deserve life in prison!"

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty tweeted: "While we raise our voices in joy knowing Julius will not be executed, we know the work ahead continues. Freedom for Julius Jones!"


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EU Joins Rights Group in Condemning Israel's 'Day of Destruction' of Palestinian Homes

"Demolitions are illegal under international law and significantly undermine the prospects for peace."

Brett Wilkins ·


GOP 'Silence Speaks Volumes,' Says Ilhan Omar as Boebert's Bigotry Goes Unpunished

"Normalizing this bigotry not only endangers my life but the lives of all Muslims. Anti-Muslim bigotry has no place in Congress."

Brett Wilkins ·


Africans Should Be 'Applauded, Not Punished,' Say Advocates Amid Omicron Travel Ban

"What is going on right now is inevitable," said African Union Vaccine Delivery Alliance co-chair Dr. Ayoade Alakija. "It's a result of the world's failure to vaccinate in an equitable, urgent, and speedy manner."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Drilling Report Blasted as 'Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters'

"Greenlighting more fossil fuel extraction, then pretending it's OK by nudging up royalty rates, is like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


UNESCO Members Adopt First Global AI Ethics Agreement 'To Benefit Humanity'

"We're at a critical juncture in history," said Ethics in Tech founder Vahid Razavi. "We need as humans to come together and decide what is the best course of action to take with these technologies before they surpass us in their abilities."

Brett Wilkins ·

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