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“No Doubt That Julius Jones Is Innocent”: Supporters Demand Stay of Execution for Oklahoma Man

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Advocates in Oklahoma are rallying outside the barricaded Governor’s Mansion ahead of the planned Thursday execution of prisoner Julius Jones, who was convicted of a 1999 murder but has maintained his innocence. Another man privately admitted to committing the murder and framing Jones, and Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board has recommended twice that his death sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole, but the final decision now rests with Governor Kevin Stitt. “There should be no doubt that Julius Jones is innocent,” says longtime death penalty opponent Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way and former president of the NAACP.

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And before you go, Ben Jealous, most likely to be arrested today, I wanted to ask you about another issue, about what’s happening in Oklahoma. Advocates have been rallying outside the barricaded Governor’s Mansion ahead of the planned Thursday execution of prisoner Julius Jones, who was convicted of a 1999 murder but has maintained his innocence. Another man, Christopher Jordan, has privately admitted to committing the murder and framing Jones. That’s according to three people who were jailed with Jordan, who served 15 years after reaching a plea deal in the case. Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board has recommended twice that Julius Jones’ death sentence be commuted to life in prison with the possibility of parole, but the final decision now rests with Governor Kevin Stitt.

You’ve long been an anti-death penalty activist, standing outside the execution prisons, like of Troy Anthony Davis, who spent half his life on death row and ultimately was executed in Georgia. Your thoughts on what’s happening possibly tomorrow?

BEN JEALOUS: This is an extreme injustice. The one eyewitness described a man with an an inch and a half of hair, and Julius’s head was clean-shaven. Julius had an alibi: He was eating dinner with his family at the time. And that was not introduced.

The prosecutor in the case, [Bob] Macy, a man who would dress up like Colonel Sanders before he went into court each day and was known to carry firearms into court, has had a third of his death penalty cases overturned for prosecutorial misconduct and, frankly, has sent many innocent people to death row.

There should be no doubt that Julius Jones is innocent. And that is, frankly, substantiated by the fact that it wasn’t just that they voted to recommend to the governor that this execution be stayed; they did so 3 to 1 in the state of Oklahoma, which, quite frankly, is a state that’s generally a fan of the death penalty. And so, this case, really there should be no debate about. They need to stop the execution. And quite frankly, they need to reopen the trial in this case.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you so much for being with us, Ben Jealous, president of People for the American Way, former president of the NAACP, headed out to the White House today. About a hundred people are expected to be arrested in a voting rights demonstration. Thanks so much for being with us.

BEN JEALOUS: Thank you, Amy.

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