Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott called on Oklahoma authorities on Thursday to release Julius Jones, a Black death row inmate sentenced for the 1999 murder of white businessman Paul Howell in Oklahoma City.
In a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt and the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Prescott urged officials to reconsider Jones’ sentence in connection to Howell’s death during a carjacking. Jones has maintained his innocence and his family members have long argued that he could not have committed the murder because he was home with them on the night of the murder.
“After reviewing the facts of the Julius Jones case, I firmly believe the wrong person is being punished for this terrible crime; furthermore, an evaluation of the process that led to Mr. Jones’ conviction raises serious legal and ethical concerns,” Prescott wrote in the letter, which was obtained by Time Magazine. “I implore you to right this wrong. Please don’t let another innocent black man die from the systemic mistreatment that has plagued our nation for far too long.”
Prescott is the latest of several pro athletes that have publicly called for Jones’ release in recent days. Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young and Houston Rockets guard Russell Westbrook have all advocated on Jones’ behalf.
A Change.org petition calling for Jones’ release has garnered more than six million signatures.
Jones’ attorney did not call him or his family members to testify in his defense during the trial, according to Time. The attorney admitted to being inexperienced during an appearance in ABC’s “The Last Defense,” a documentary detailing the case.
Prescott, 27, has emerged as a prominent voice for social justice causes in recent months. In June, he pledged $1 million to "improve our police training and address systematic racism through education and advocacy in our country."