Not clear Stitt has power to tie future governors’ hands on potential Jones release, OU law prof say

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — Gov. Kevin Stitt, upon announcing he was commuting Julius Jones’ sentence to life in prison without parole, said he didn’t have the legal authority to give him a shot at release.

Stitt’s decision differs from the state Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendations. The board twice said that Jones should be given the opportunity for parole.

But Stitt said state law and the state Constitution don’t allow that.

Stitt also put in place a condition that Jones never be able to be considered for commutation, pardon or parole for the remainder of his life.

Stitt’s office said his word was final. But an OU law professor isn’t so sure.

“It’s not clear to me that the governor can do that. A future governor may want to pardon Julius Jones and I don’t think – I’m just not clear – that this governor, Governor Stitt, can impose that on future governors,” said Guha Krishnamurthi, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.

Regardless, it’s clear that Jones won’t be put to death.