OKLAHOMA CITY- The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference at the Oklahoma State Capitol on Wednesday to discuss the Julius Jones case, and to call for Gov. Kevin Stitt to follow the recommendations of the Oklahoma State Pardon and Parole Board.
The pardon and parole board recommended clemency for Jones last month. The board called for commuting Jones' sentence to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
The press conference included statements from Oklahoma Legislative Caucus Chairman Rep. Jason Lowe, Vice Chairman Rep. Monroe Nichols, Rep. Regina Goodwin, Rep. Mauree Turner, and Dr. John Reed, senior pastor of Fairview Missionary Baptist Church.
“The legal standard in the state of Oklahoma for the death penalty is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’” said Lowe, who is also an attorney. “This case has nothing but doubt. It is filled with doubt.”
The Black Caucus is not asking for special treatment for Jones but for the governor to follow the recommendations of the pardon and parole board.
“Our call today is to ask the governor to follow the recommendations of the board,” Nichols said. "This is not about our personal values regarding the death penalty. There is a process. That process has run its course, and now we have a board that has recommended not once but twice that this man shouldn’t be put to death.”
Caucus members took time to express sympathy for the Howell family. Paul Howell was murdered on July 28, 1999.
“This has been such a long journey for so many,” Goodwin said. “Again, we want to express our condolences to the Howell family. Our prayers are with the Howell family.”
Jones continues to maintain his innocence as he has for more than twenty years.
“I’m here today just to make an appeal to our governor from the faith community,” Dr. Reed said. “We are asking our governor to follow and accept the decision, which has been made by his pardon and parole board.”
“We get the opportunity, today and every day we wake up, to rebuild and reimagine our justice system with our communities in mind,” Turner said. “We have processes in place that have happened and on more than one occasion, with the clemency and the commutation, and we get an opportunity to uphold that."
Oklahomans who want to contact Governor Stitt to ask him to follow the recommendations of the pardon and parole board can call (405)521-2342.