MCALESTER, Okla. (KFOR) – A large crowd of Julius Jones supporters celebrated outside of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester on Thursday when Governor Kevin Stitt announced his decision to commute Jones’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“I know that we will win,” Julius Jones supporters chanted outside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary on Thursday.
“All God. Yes. All God,” they cheered.
The group celebrated after Governor Kevin Stitt announced his decision to commute Jones’ sentence to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
“Julius Jones heart is still beating and it’ll still be beating tomorrow,” Jabee Williams, an OKC activist with the Justice for Julius movement, said.
Just after noon on Thursday, four hours before Jones was scheduled to be executed, Stitt issued an executive order, commuting Jones’ sentence. However, it comes with a provision that Jones cannot re-apply or be considered for commutation.
“Julius Jones is innocent. He needs to be home with his family. So, obviously, I’m a little upset about that but, I believe in an all knowing God, I believe in a merciful God, a God who makes miracles happen like the one we just witnessed here,” Adriana Laws, an activist with the Justice for Julius movement, said.
We spoke with Laws and other supporters about an hour earlier as the crowd waited for Stitt to make his decision.
“I’m sad. I’m hurt. I’m disappointed, but mostly I’m optimistic,” Laws said.
“I feel like it should have been over with a long time ago,” a McAlester high school student said.
A group of McAlester students skipped school on Thursday to join the crowd outside the prison.
“I thought this was a lot more important that sitting in class. I would feel terrible if I was in school right now and not here helping with this cause,” Candice Coxhearon, a McAlester High School senior, said.
Governor Stitt had the pardon and parole board’s clemency recommendation for three weeks before he made his decision, leading to rallies at the state capitol and the governor’s mansion all week, ending at the state penitentiary.
“There shouldn’t be any more lynchings. When my mom said that she did not want to see a lynching tomorrow, I know God heard her,” Antoinette Jones, Jones’ sister, said.