After more than two weeks of silence following the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation to commute Julius Jones’ sentence, Gov Stitt has announced he will deny the request. In a statement Tuesday night, the Governor said he would instead wait for a ruling following Jones’ clemency hearing. That hearing will take on place or before October 28th.
The statement from the Governor’s office read in part:
“I am not accepting the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation to commute the sentence of Julius Jones because a clemency hearing, not a commutation hearing, is the appropriate venue for our state to consider death row cases.”
The governor went on to say he believed clemency hearings are more “intensive and thorough” than commutation hearings.
Jones’ commutation hearing, however, was nothing but intensive and thorough. Jones’ defense attorney had to prove to an independent panel that a sentencing ruling in a case made decades ago was wrong. The September 13th meeting lasted three hours and included testimony from prosecutors, defense attorneys and family members of the deceased.
Now, Julius Jones and his friends and family members must endure another agonizing month without answers.
Calls for justice for Julius Jones grow louder by the day
As organizers continue to push for justice, support for Julius Julius’ commutation has grown significantly. A poll released at the end of August showed that 60% of Oklahomans support commutation.
Julius’s case has also captured nationwide attention.
Last November, Kim Kardashian visited Julius Jones on death row to help raise awareness his case. Earlier this month, Late night host James Carden urged viewers to call Governor Stitt’s and ask him to commute Julius’s sentence. And currently, an online petition demanding Justice for Julius has more than 6.3 million signatures.
Jones is also receiving support from an unexpected source. Connie Ellison, the girlfriend of the man Jones is accused of killing, has publicly expressed her doubts that Jones is guilty. In an exclusive Op-Ed sent to The Black Wall Street Times, Ellison said “I know, without doubt, that Paul would not want an innocent man to be executed for his murder. And neither do I.”
If OK Gov. Stitt’s denial is truly based on a technicality, it’s unclear why it took sixteen days to issue a statement.
Jones’ clemency hearing will be before the same board that already approved his request for commutation.
Julius Jones’ scheduled execution date is November 18th.
According to the Innocence Project, one in every 25 people currently on death row are likely innocent. Individuals who would like to learn more about the effort to save Julius from death row can visit www.justiceforjuliusjones.com.