Julius Jones is a Black man from Oklahoma who is set to be executed by the state today. At age 19, he was charged with the murder of Paul Howell, a white buisnessman, in a carjacking and was sentenced to death in 1999. Now 41 years old, Jones has been imprisoned and has been fighting for his freedom for over half his life. He is currently being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day, only allowed one hour of sunlight a day. He is being allowed only three showers a week. He is being tortured and now is set to be executed.
The conviction and sentence of Julius Jones has nothing to do with justice. It is a racist lynching by the capitalist state. The facts speak for themselves. Jones was assigned a lawyer who didn’t adequately defend him. His lawyer failed to present Jones’s alibi which would have shown that he was in fact eating dinner with his family at the time of the carjacking, miles away from the murder scene. Also, it has since been revealed that the description of the carjacker did not even match Jones’s appearance. The description was of someone with 1-2 inches of hair, while at the time, Jones’s head was shaved. The officer who arrested Jones called him the n-word and threatened to shoot him if he ran.
Further, there are questions about how the case has been handled in court. The district attorney who is trying Jones has a history of dirty dealings; he has had a third of his cases thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct. Many of the victims of this misconduct were Black defendants. Moreover, eleven of the twelve jurors on the case were white. One of these jurors said during the trial that the trial itself was a waste of time and that “they should just take the n***** out and shoot him behind the jail.” The judge was informed, but did nothing about it.
Although he has been imprisoned for more than twenty years, Jones has never lost his spirit and has been relentless in trying to prove that he was not the one who committed the murder. Over 6.3 million people have signed a petition supporting Jones’s release and demanding that his execution be stopped.
If executed today, Jones will be the 525th Black person to be murdered by the state since 1976. Black people are three times more likely to get the death penalty than a white person in a similar case. 20% of Black people executed by the state were sentenced by all white juries. And 80% of people on death row are accused of killing a white person. 90% of the people on death row could not pay for their own lawyer. Race and class decide who is killed by the death penalty.
Though many states have prohibited the use of the death penalty, a handful of states continue to use it to murder innocent people like Troy Davis, Brandon Bernard, and now Julius Jones. This is a state- sanctioned, state- executed lynching. A white man was killed, so Julius Jones has to die.
This murder by the state is part of a long legacy of imprisoning and lynching Black people. The Southern Black codes implemented after Reconstruction were used to arbitrarily arrest Black people and keep them in a position of serving as cheap labor for the racist capitalist system. But these codes often extended beyond institutional means into the extrajudicial killings of Black people. Black people were publicly lynched, with the tacit and sometimes open support of the state in an attempt to terrorize them into submission.
The prison industrial complex today continues the racist legacy of those early Black Codes. It imprisons Black people in droves for cheap slave labor in prisons, providing massive profits to capitalists. It executes Black people after shoddy and blatantly rigged trials.. And if people are let out, they are then denied basic democratic rights such as voting. They are kept as a permanent underclass of laborers, often barred from jobs after being imprisoned.
This is an essential component of the same racist capitalist system that creates massive profits for a few while ensuring the misery of the vast majority. Jones’s case is another example of how racism and racist violence against Black people are ingrained in the capitalist state.
We at Left Voice demand the immediate release of Julius Jones and that all charges against him be dropped. We must fight for the complete abolition of racist and draconian death penalty.