The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board scheduled tentative hearing dates to consider clemency for seven death row inmates including Julius Jones.
Last week, Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor requested execution dates spanning from October 2021 to February 2022 for John Grant, Julius Jones, Bigler Stouffer, Wade Lay, Donald Grant, Gilbert Postelle, and James Coddington.
“The seven inmates to be scheduled for execution were convicted of heinous crimes. They either didn't challenge the protocol or offer an alternative method of execution,” O’Connor said in a statement last week. “In 2016, two-thirds of Oklahomans voted to insert capital punishment into the constitution. My job as the state's chief law enforcement officer is to enforce the laws of the state of Oklahoma.”
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals is considering the requested execution dates and could approve them in the coming days.
The Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board held a special meeting Tuesday to establish tentative dates for each inmate’s clemency hearing, which must be scheduled within three days after the execution date is finalized.
At the clemency hearings, board members will consider whether to recommend vacating execution as a penalty or not. The board’s recommendation is then passed to Gov. Kevin Stitt, who makes the decision to cancel an execution or allow it to proceed.
The board can go further than granting clemency by also recommending commuting the inmate’s sentence.
The most recent state execution was January 15, 2015.
Jabee Williams, a music artist and a member of the Julius Jones coalition, noted Stitt appointed O’Connor to the office of attorney general in July, and O'Connor was quick to request execution dates.
“One of the first things on his agenda is to start executing people. I think that’s very interesting,” Williams said.
Williams hopes the pardon and parole board recommends Jones be relieved of the death penalty and his immediate release.
“For us, he’s served a life sentence for a crime he didn’t commit,” he said.
Jones’ conviction of murdering an Edmond man in 1999 was the subject of a documentary. His effort to have his sentence commuted has garnered national attention.
Any recommendation by the board is passed to Stitt for final approval.