Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott is Seeking to Spare the Life of Oklahoma Death Row Inmate Julius Jones
Dallas Cowboy quarterback Dak Prescott has written to Oklahoma’s Governor and Board of Parole in petitioning to overturn the execution of Julius Jones, a Black man who has been sitting on Death Row since 2002.
Prescott, who is a part of the massive cultural movement seeking to counteract racism in this country, speaks for many others who advocate for Jones, strongly believing that he is not responsible for the 1999 murder of Paul Howell. “Current events are shining a much-needed light on deep-seated prejudices and systemic mistreatment of Black people, and it is my sincere hope that the cultural movements of today will lead to significant social changes that will create a better tomorrow,” writes Prescott, 27.
Due to the many shocking incidents of racial injustice that have recently taken place in America, dozens of athletes have used their platform to combat the racial issues that still afflict America. In the NBA, “Black Lives Matter” slogans are worn on the back of each player jerseys, showing support for those who have struggled in an unfair society simply because of their skin color. Players routinely kneel during the National Anthem to demonstrate their determination to oppose systemic racism in America, a gesture that caused Colin Kaepernick to lose his job of quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers.
Jones, the Oklahoma inmate convicted of first-degree murder and who is set to be executed at an undisclosed date, has maintained his innocence throughout the entire case. The deceased in Jones’ case, Howell, was murdered during a hijacking, and Jones was suspected to be the one who carried out the crime. However, many believe that his imprisonment and sentence resulted from racial bias, a weak defense and faulty investigation. Evidence about Jones possibly having been framed was kept out of the trial.
The only witness who had been on the scene of Howell’s murder was the victim’s sister, Megan Tobey, who testified that a half-inch of hair had been sticking out of a stocking cap. Jones claimed that couldn’t be him, and showed photographic evidence of what he had looked like around the time of the murder, establishing that his hair had not been long enough to match the description of the shooter, and had even been braided into cornrows at the time. A juror uttered a racial epithet during the trial, but the judge was never properly informed. Because of doubts concerning Jones’ conviction and sentence, strong efforts are being made to get Jones off of Death Row.
Prescott’s involvement in the case has prompted others to doubt the validity of Jones’ conviction and sentence. Prescott’s standing as a Black man, and as a widely known and successful quarterback, allows him to reach a community where he can speak effectively about instances of racial injustices; and Prescott can speak compellingly of his own struggles and for hopes of changes within the world. Prescott believes Jones is another Black man who was failed by the government, therefore he is using his platform to fight for Jones’ freedom. Prescott has even pledged $1 million to improve police training as he addresses what systemic racism will continue to do to our society if neglected.