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julius jones
Supporters gather during a rally and march in effort to show support for the release of Oklahoma death row inmate Julius Jones in Oklahoma City on Feb. 25, 2021. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

By Rev. Dr. Eric Gill and Rev. Chris Moore

Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.

It is written, “Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord.”

-Romans 12:19 (Common English Bible translation)

One of the tremendous moral tenets of faith is that justice and revenge are not the same things. That is, in part, because justice seeks impartiality, fairness, the righting of an imbalance. But revenge operates from the same place as all of our biases, replacing rationality with reaction and careful consideration of the details with immediate action from our initial assessment, which is often wrong. 

Studies show racial bias is rampant

Race matters within the American criminal justice system. Study after study reveals this reality. In 2016 the Fair Punishment Project captured – among other things – how racial biases drive prosecutors and their sentencing. Additionally, a study conducted by Northwestern University concluded that Black men in Oklahoma are three times more likely to be sentenced to the death penalty if the victim is White. Given the documented reality of racial bias in education, policing, and housing, we should not be surprised that this same bias exists in our criminal justice system.

In the modern era (since 1976), Oklahoma has the highest number of executions per capita. And, since the resumption of capital punishment in the 1970s, more prisoners have been exonerated from wrongful convictions and death sentences in Oklahoma County than from all but three other counties in the United States. And according to the Oklahoma Innocence Project, 36 wrongfully convicted Oklahomans have been officially exonerated since 1993. This criminal justice system has a devotion to revenge, not justice, and, at times, this infatuation is ultimately directed towards the innocent.  

Justice and revenge aren’t the same things

We have a moral obligation to ensure that the State of Oklahoma does not execute a person for a crime they did not commit. We have already exonerated 10 Oklahomans on death row. We may soon exonerate another. Julius Jones, a Black man on death row for the alleged killing of a White businessman in 1999, has a widely publicized, credible claim to innocence and, at the very least, prosecutorial misconduct. Given the long history of misconduct that has occurred, especially in Oklahoma County, serious consideration must be given to new information about Julius’ case, including the fact that his codefendant appears to have confessed multiple times to the murder for which Julius was sentenced.  This is an opportunity for us to move our system towards justice, not revenge.

By Rev. Gill and Rev. Moore

julius jones
Rev. Gill (left) and Rev. Moore.

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4 replies on “Op-ed: Justice requires that serious consideration be given to Julius Jones’ innocence”

  1. We are to seek justice, not revenge. All sanctions, inclusive of the death penalty are given based within justice.

    Please be aware that many of these innocent claims are quite, simply, fraud. Don’t know this case, but from 71% (NYTimes) to 83% (Florida Commission on Capital Cases) of the “innocent” or “exonerated” claims are false, as well known since 2000.

    Pay attention to the juducual rulings not anti death penalty nonsense.

  2. The Kardashian PR machine is fueling this public relations stunt about Julius Jones. If you want to read the case google the key words JULIUS JONES OKLAHOMA COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEALS, then you can make up an informed decision.

    Here are a few facts the media does not present, since it does not involve Kardashians:

    1. Julius pled guilty to armed robbery and carjacking

    2. Julius co-horts in the car jacking adventure ALL African Americans all 4 testified against him and told of his statements of guilt

    3. Julius wrote a threatening letter to his girlfriend warning her that his family could injure her if she testified against her

    4. At trial, testimony by numerous witnesses showed that the Jones family was soliciting false testimony trying to establish a false alibi, which is why the attorney did not call them as witnesses, since their lack of credibility was already

    established. Now that folks have forgotten this episode of attempted perjury and witness tampering, the Jones family now falsely says they were not allowed to testify.

    5. Jones own attorney blamed the shooting during a car jacking on “impulse control” issue that Jones had

    6. Jones was implicated in numerous crimes after his OU scholarship was revoked and he was financially desperate

    All sad, but true. Jones has been rightfully convicted just like al the other inmates on death row

  3. I’ll throw a party on the day this subhuman 70-IQ shtskn beast is executed.

    I mock the grief of his shtskn family.

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