Black Evangelical Leaders, including T.D. Jakes, plead for the life of Julius Jones

A range of African-American faith leaders has pressed over recent years for commutation, clemency and mercy in the case of Julius Jones. Convicted of the 1999 murder of Edmond businessman Paul Howell. Jones has maintained his innocence for more than two decades he has been in prison. Now on “death watch” at the State Prison in McAlester, Jones could be executed Thursday afternoon, unless Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt acts favorably on a Pardon and Parole Board recommendation of clemency for Jones. ( )

Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House, a renowned Evangelical leader, has encouraged Gov. Stitt to commute Julius Jones’s death sentence. In his letter sent to the Oklahoma chief executive in 2020, he pointed to evidence of actual innocence problems in his trial two decades ago. He hoped the Governor would offer Julius a second chance, writing “While this case has garnered national attention, it is not from that outcry that I appeal to you today, but one of genuine concern for this individual case and the loss that has ensued.”

Bishop Jakes, whose worldwide ministry is based in Dallas, Texas, emphasized that “Mr. Jones has served over 21 years, which far surpasses the time served by the co-defendant, who is said to have confessed to the crime while in prison and better fits the witness description.”In another letter, the National African American Clergy Network writes: “As ministers of the Gospel, our hope relies on the justice and mercy of God found in Jesus Christ. As clergy, we believe an injustice has occurred, and we are calling on your authority to correct it.” In a recent National Faith Call under the leadership of Minister Keith Jossell of Oklahoma City, Evangelical leaders here and across America urged Governor Stitt to grant clemency in the case. The leaders encouraged Stitt to draw on his faith in his consideration of the clemency petition.