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Conservatives across Oklahoma and the nation are joining the call for Julius Jones’ death sentence to be vacated. It was nearly fifty days ago that the state’s pardon and parole board recommended the commutation of Jones’ death sentence. Governor Stitt denied that request on claims that he needed to wait for Jones’ clemency hearing to take place. He did not.
As a result, Julius is now on death watch, confined in a cell mere feet away from the execution chamber as he awaits his clemency hearing on November 1st. His family members tell The BWSTimes that he cannot sleep because the light stays on 24/7. It is a torturous process and some Republicans are speaking up and calling for it to stop.
Letter from former Rebublican White House Official calls on Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence
In a letter sent to Governor Stitt on October 22nd, The American Conservative Union and the Faith and Freedom Coalition called on the Governor to commute Julius’s sentence.
“Our belief is that when the death penalty is imposed, it should be done so only in the gravest circumstances,” the letter reads. “And even then, only when there is absolutely no question of the defendant’s guilt.”
“Even a cursory reading of the facts will leave one with questions about whether [Jones] committed first degree murder.”
The letter went on to endorse the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation of community the sentence. It blasted Oklahoma County DA David Prater for “troubling pressure tactics” to force the board into “rubber stamping the execution”.
At the end, the authors of the letter acknowledged this as a “pro-life” issue.
“As representatives of staunchly pro-life organizations, we believe that taking an innocent life… is wrong. As long as that outcome is possible, we believe one must err on the side of life,” the letter reads.
“Accordingly, we urge you to commute Julius Jones’ sentence.”
The letter contains the signatures of the two groups’ leaders: former Bush White House Director of Public Relations Matt Schlapp and Fox News contributor Timothy Head. Schlapp is also married to Mercedes Schlapp who served as Trump’s White House Director of Strategic Communications.
Tulsa Republican and former mayoral candidate speaks out against death penalty
Adding to the chorus of demand for change is Ken Reddick, a staunchly-conservative Republican and former candidate for Tulsa Mayor in 2020. In an interview with The BWSTimes, Reddick called for Jones’ life to be spared. More than that, he also called for an end to the death penalty in Oklahoma.
Reddick says he feels alone in his beliefs as a conservative. But he stands firm in them, noting they come from a desire for limited government and his own personal faith.
“For my Christian friends,” Reddick said, “I remind them that Jesus told us that ‘an eye for an eye’ days were done. ‘A life for a life’ is no longer our law. He tells us to turn our cheek and give him the other.”
“I believe he was speaking as a teacher and not a pacifist,” he continued. “We should embrace those who harm us and, as a society, help them reform.”
Reddick believes the current system politicizes the death penalty by giving the Governor ultimate power in the commutation process. He says until the death penalty is gone, a more thorough conviction and review process is needed. Reddick points to Innocence Project data showing numerous executions of innocent people as evidence that even unanimous juries “still make mistakes“.
In his interview, Reddick went on to voice concern that Stitt ended a six-year execution moratorium implemented by Governor Fallin. He said the issues from six years ago were “evident” in the botched execution of John Grant last Friday.
“Many say it went wrong and was inhumane,” Reddick wrote. “I think the time is now for real change.”
Oklahomans demand action from the Governor
While Julius’ November 18th execution date nears, Oklahomans from all walks of life urge Governor Stitt to commute Jones’ sentence immediately.
Julius’s friends and family have organized a prayer vigil and march ahead of Monday’s commutation hearing. Organizers expect scores of people to stand in the cold Oklahoma winds in solidarity with Julius and his family. There, while the hearing plays over load speakers, they will issue a righteous, unwavering and unified demand for action from the Governor.
However, every moment Governor Stitt delays, Julius’ life hangs in the balance.
And every day without an answer is hell for Julius and his family.
To learn more about the case and how you can support Julius’ fight for freedom, visit www.justiceforjuliusjones.com.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Matt Schlapp, a Republican who has advocated for commutation for Julius Jones, as a “former Trump White House Official”. Mr. Schlapp is a former Bush White House Official. He later lobbied the Trump White House when his wife, Mercedes Schlapp, served as Trump’s Director of Strategic Communications.