OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus released the following statements today after Governor Kevin Stitt
commuted the sentence of Julius Jones on Thursday.
Rep. Jason Lowe, OLBC Chair:
“I am filled with joy knowing that Julius Jones no longer faces execution and will live to see more days. I would like to thank Governor Stitt for sparing the life of Julius Jones. I would also like to thank everyone that has used their voice in support of Julius, may yesterday’s decision stand as a reminder of the change that can be made when we stand together in support of one another. While yesterday brought me great relief, it also speaks to the urgency of continuing the work to create a fair and just criminal justice system.
My heart continues to ache for the Howell family as they process this decision. I am praying for the continued healing and strength of both the Howell and Jones families.”
Rep. Monroe Nichols, OLBC Vice-Chair/Treasurer:
"I join the Jones family and the voices of advocacy from all over the world in celebration that Juilus' life was spared. Where there is doubt, there can not be state-sanctioned murder. I am also holding the Howell family close today, I know this process has been unimaginably difficult for them. My prayers will continue for peace, justice and closure for all involved."
Sen. George Young, D-OKC:
“I am relieved for the Jones family. I was expecting this outcome, and it is still hard to digest. The Governor waits until the last minute and does not kill him but assign him a fate that, is in some ways worse than death. Yet, the Governor claims the higher ground. There is more work to be done.”
Rep. Regina Goodwin, D-Tulsa:
“Thanking God, Julius lives to see another day. I appreciate Governor Stitt’s choice to spare his life. Mrs. Jones can hug her son. Raising concerns and questions of legality is Governor Stitt’s Executive Order stating that Julius Jones will not be eligible to apply for or be considered for commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life. Doubt in the case remains and this innocent man should not be in prison. The difficult journey towards justice for Julius continues. So many supporters across Oklahoma and the world have been difference makers.”
Rep. Ajay Pittman, D-OKC:
“We thank Governor Stitt for commuting the death sentence of Julius Jones. This is not the end of this journey, there is so much work to do to seek transparency and accountability to make sure that we do not wrongfully incarcerate or execute any death row inmates.
“We must continue to keep these families in prayer. We must also keep the voters and citizens engaged in this process.”
Rep. Mauree Turner, D-OKC:
"Yesterday, Julius, the Jones family, and what feels like the rest of the world got to breathe a little lighter. I am beyond grateful Julius Darius Jones remains alive and gets to see his family again. I'm thankful that his family decided to share in their hurt, let us hold them, and show up for them - because we know that there's no power like people power. The Justice For Julius coalition moved mountains, they also helped shine a light on an inherently flawed prison industrial complex.
“The death penalty has no place in this world and should be removed from Oklahoma's constitution - I am dedicated to working alongside Oklahomans to end it."