- Dak Prescott penned a letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to advocate for the release of Julius Jones, a Black death row inmate the Dallas Cowboys quarterback believes was wrongfully convicted of murder.
- Jones has been on death row for 20 years but says incompetence from his attorneys and racial animus from his jury prohibited the then-19 year old from receiving a fair trial.
- Prescott implored Stitt to not "let another innocent black man die from the systemic mistreatment that has plagued our nation for far too long."
- Prescott joins a list of star athletes with connections to the state — including Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Trae Young, Buddy Hield, and Baker Mayfield — in calling for Jones' release.
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Dak Prescott is the latest high-profile athlete to use his platform to promote social justice initiatives.
The Dallas Cowboys quarterback penned a letter to Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt to advocate for the release of a Black inmate he believes was wrongfully convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Julius Jones was 19 years old when he was accused of killing white businessman Paul Howell despite his family's insistence that he was home.
In his letter, Prescott implored Stitt to not "let another innocent black man die from the systemic mistreatment that has plagued our nation for far too long," per TIME's Sean Gregory.
"The treatment of Julius Jones is the kind of miscarriage of justice African American men like myself live in fear of," Prescott wrote, "and that is why I feel compelled to use the influence that God has blessed me with to speak up for what I believe is right and to give a voice to those who cannot speak for themselves."
"My prayer is that [Jones] is able to salvage what remains of his life and that, through the righting of a decades-old wrong, he will be restored to his family soon."
Jones was first arrested as a rising sophomore at Oklahoma University. In the last 20 years, some revelations about his case suggest that he was not granted a fair trial. In "The Last Defense" — an ABC documentary series about Jones' case — the original lawyer from his trial admitted to being ill-equipped to adequately defend Jones, as he was both inexperienced and fielding a heavy caseload.
Members of the jury — 11 out of 12 of whom were white — have since admitted that racial animus influenced their decision-making during the trial. In a sworn affidavit from last year, one juror wrote that she "felt that there was racism on the jury that convicted Mr. Jones and sentenced him to death."
According to TIME, she also wrote that she heard a fellow juror say "they just need to take this n—-r and shoot him, and take him and bury him underneath the jail" during a break. She told a bailiff, but the individual in question was permitted to remain on the jury.
"Julius Jones' case is a clear example of what can happen to a person who cannot afford legal representation, and what can happen to a black person at any time in this country – which is exactly why so many are protesting for the changes we so desperately need," Prescott wrote in his letter. "I ask for you to please do your part to help bring about this change by giving thoughtful and sincere consideration to your review of Julius Jones' commutation application."
Prescott is not the first superstar athlete to write to politicians in support of Jones. Russell Westbrook, Blake Griffin, Trae Young, Buddy Hield, and Baker Mayfield — all of whom have connections to the state of Oklahoma — have all called for Jones' release.
- Read more:
- Maya Moore already paved the way for athletes like Kyrie Irving who are 'willing to give up everything' for social justice reform
- WNBA superstar Maya Moore reunites with Jonathan Irons in an emotional video after she fought to have his wrongful conviction overturned
- Coco Gauff delivered an impassioned speech at her local Black Lives Matter peaceful protest: 'If you are choosing silence, you are choosing the side of the oppressor'
- Senator Kelly Loeffler blamed 'out of control cancel culture' for the WNBA players' public endorsement of her political rival
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