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One Of This Year's Most Signed Petitions Helped Save A Man's Life

Claire Reid

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One Of This Year's Most Signed Petitions Helped Save A Man's Life

One of this year’s most signed change.org petitions helped to save a man’s life just hours ahead of his execution. 

The petition, titled Julius Jones is innocent. Don't let him be executed by the state of Oklahoma, received a whopping 6.5 million signatures and garnered attention from numerous celebrities including Kim Kardashian and Kerry Washington. 

Aged just 19, Julius Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell during a carjacking. 

Credit: change.org
Credit: change.org

A change.org petition set up by Cece Jones-Davis begged the Governor of Oklahoma and the Pardon and Parole Board to reconsider his sentence and helped draw attention towards the case.

The petition read in part: “Julius has lived on death row for almost 20 years, and is held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day. He is allowed one hour of sunlight a day, and three showers a week. Every minute we wait to take action, Julius is suffering.”

Jones, who has always maintained his innocence, spent almost 20 years on death row and was scheduled to be executed at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester at 4pm on 19 November this year. 

However, at 12:45 pm Jones and his lawyers were told he had been granted clemency, meaning the execution was off and his sentence commuted to life without the possibility of parole.

Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt said in a statement: “After prayerful consideration and reviewing materials presented by all sides of this case, I have determined to commute Julius Jones’ sentence to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.”

Jones' attorney Amanda Bass said the decision was an ‘important step towards restoring public faith in the criminal justice system by ensuring that Oklahoma does not execute an innocent man’. 

Jones' supporters when they heard the news. Credit: Alamy
Jones' supporters when they heard the news. Credit: Alamy

She told CNN: "While we had hoped the Governor would adopt the Board's recommendation in full by commuting Julius's sentence to life with the possibility of parole in light of the overwhelming evidence of Julius's innocence, we are grateful that the Governor has prevented an irreparable mistake."

Howell’s family remain convinced Jones is responsible for Paul’s death.

In a statement they said: "We know Governor Stitt had a difficult decision to make. 

"We take comfort that his decision affirmed the guilt of Julius Jones and that he shall not be eligible to apply for, or be considered for, a commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life."

"Julius Jones forever changed our lives and the lives of (Paul Howell's) family and friends.”




Featured Image Credit: Oklahoma Department of Corrections

Topics: US News, Crime

Claire Reid
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