Julius Jones Saved from Death Row
Julius Jones, an inmate on death row at an Oklahoma prison, was recently given clemency which means he won’t be executed. Here’s what you should know.
Who Is Julius Jones?
Julius Jones was tried and convicted for a fatal shooting during a carjacking in 1999. During jones’ 2002 trial, the jury voted for the death penalty, which is how Jones ended up spending 20 years in prison waiting for his execution.
During his trial and the years since his sentencing, Jones has maintained his innocence, saying his co-defendant shot and killed the victim and framed him for it. Millions of people in Oklahoma and elsewhere in America have rallied around Julius to support his innocence.
The crusade on his behalf reached its climax when his execution was scheduled for November 24th. With only a short few days between his hearing and scheduled execution, Julius Jones and his advocates went into overdrive.
Their efforts paid off as Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt granted Jones clemency, saving his life. So, what is clemency, and what does it mean for Julius Jones?
What Is Clemency?
Clemency is a legal term that literally means “leniency” or “mercy.” In the criminal justice system, clemency is the act of lowering or pardoning someone convicted of a crime. This can mean that a prisoner’s sentence is reduced from life to 15 years with the opportunity for parole, or in Jones’ case, it could mean avoiding the death penalty.
Clemency is most often used to remove people from death row, and it’s not a pardon given lightly. It’s been relatively rare in American history thus far because the justice system makes it difficult to improve the conditions of incarcerated people.
This is also a power given to the executive branch, which doesn’t mean the Supreme Court or Governor can’t grant clemency, but doing so has more significant implications for lesser government offices. So far, there have only been 295 clemencies.
A New Sentence
Despite the fact that Julius Jones is no longer on death row, he still has a sentence to serve. The Governor granted clemency so Jones won’t be executed, but this is conditional – Jones still has to serve a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
While this isn’t the end result activists were hoping for, it’s the first step toward change. Oklahoma is one of the few states left with the death penalty, which is a real threat to people who have been wrongfully accused.
Many of Jones’ advocates hope his clemency will mark a new era of change in the Oklahoma justice system, so others who have been wrongly accused don’t have to fear for their lives.