The day before her son’s scheduled execution, Madeline Davis-Jones had one request: a hug.
That was denied Wednesday when her last visit to Julius Jones, her 41-year-old son who has been on Oklahoma’s death row since he was 19, was conducted on either side of a glass wall.
Later, before a crowd of hundreds that had gathered in front of Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt’s office, she said she had no interest in attending her son’s execution by lethal injection, scheduled for 4 p.m. Central Time on Thursday.
“How could you want to go to a lynching? No, I don’t want to go to a lynching tomorrow,” she said Wednesday night. “Why would I want to see someone hanged? We should be through with that.”
At least one arrest was made Wednesday night outside the governor's mansion, where demonstrators had camped out in protest.
Jones, a Black man, has spent nearly two decades on death row in Oklahoma for the 1999 murder of white businessman Paul Howell. He has always maintained his innocence, claiming he was framed by his co-suspect, who received a plea bargain in return for his testimony that placed Jones as the perpetrator.
Earlier this month, after reviewing the evidence against Jones, the state’s Pardon and Parole Board recommended for a second time by a 3-1 majority that Jones’ execution be halted, and asked Gov. Stitt to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment with the possibility of parole.
Notably, two of the three parole board members who voted for clemency had been appointed by Stitt, one, Adam Luck, said, “Personally, I believe in death penalty cases there should be no doubts. And put simply, I have doubts about this case.”
With only hours remaining until Jones' scheduled execution, Gov. Stitt has yet to announce if he will be accepting their recommendation.
Police barricades have been placed around the governor’s mansion in preparation for Thursday’s execution. The red and orange barricades lined the perimeter of the property as the governor is expected to be making his final decision with regards to Jones’ execution.
“The governor takes his role in this process seriously and is carefully considering the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation as he does in all cases," said Charlie Hannema, spokesperson for the governor. "There will not be any further comment until the governor has made a decision."
Jones’ spiritual advisor, the Rev. Keith Jossell, spoke out Wednesday about the conditions under which Jones is being held. "Being chained like he was, it brought tears to his eyes, because no one wants to be treated like they are less than an animal,” Jossell said. He said Jones was chained so tight that they could not hug.
“As Julius had tears running down his eyes, he had the question, ‘Why would they do this to me? I wasn’t there! I wasn’t there!'” Jossell said.
Kim Kardashian, who has also taken up Jones’ cause, wrote on Twitter about the conditions. “Julius Jones has been on death watch for more than 2 weeks. In preparation for his execution on Nov. 18, he is alone in his prison cell just feet away from the executioner’s chamber," she wrote.
“He has been strip-searched, X-rayed, and issued a new set of clothes, shoes, mattress & bedding. Julius is being closely monitored by staff — every meal he has and every liquid he consumes is logged,” she wrote. “His personal property has been catalogued and he has designated who is to receive it after he is put to death. He has also designated who will receive his remains.”
“At 9 p.m. the day before his execution, #JuliusJones phone privileges will be terminated and he will receive his last meal. He will be checked on every 15 minutes for the last four hours of his life. Then, he will be put to death.”
Other notable supporters include NBA stars Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, and Trae Young.
Awareness of the case has increased exponentially in the past few weeks leading up to Thursday’s planned execution thanks in part to Kardashian’s public lobbying. A Justice for Julius campaign launched by the Jones family has amassed over 70,000 followers on Instagram. A Change.org petition created by Oklahoma Rev. Cece Jones-Davis has collected over 6.4 million signatures. Several walkouts also occurred across Oklahoma Wednesday in protest at Oklahoma’s educational institutions, including several high schools.
Gov. Stitt is now facing significant international pressure after the European Union’s ambassador to the U.S. released a letter urging him to halt the execution. The German ambassador for the U.S., the Embassy of Denmark, the Slovak ambassador to the U.S., the Belgian ambassador to the U.S., and France’s ambassador to the U.S. all tweeted out their support for the letter.
Jones’ sister Antoinette Jones said at the Capitol Wednesday that in her conversation with Jones, he said, “It’s time. It is time to correct this injustice.”