Clemency for Quin - A moral and racial injustice

Sunday, May 16

By Martha Hammond

In 1999, Quentin Philippe Jones, an angry and drug-addicted 20 year old man, killed his great aunt Berthena Bryant over $30 he needed for drugs. Following a trial, he was convicted of her murder. 

Based on this conviction and his supposed involvement in two other killings of which he was never charged, the prosecution argued that Quin was beyond redemption and that he would continue to be a mortal threat. The jury sentenced him to die. 

Quin is scheduled to be executed on the 19th May 2021 via lethal injection in the state of Texas. 

I am one of the 12,000 who ask Gov. Greg Abbot and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles with respect,  to commute Quinn’s sentence from death to life without the possibility of parole. The victim’s family, which is also Quin’s family have forgiven him. 

In the clemency plea, Mr Jones’ lawyers have provided abundant evidence of how the American justice system has failed him:  his state-appointed legal representation missed filing deadlines as well as failing to challenge critical problems within the case; that the state’s argument hinged on flawed science and an inaccurate methodology that has since been discredited for use in death penalty cases by its own creator; that glaring conflicts of interest have had irreconcilable implications on the process for setting Quin’s execution date and furthermore that there are disparities based on race. 

Ricky “Red” Roosa, the ring leader who was white and 18 years older than Jones was convicted of murdering two other persons and received only life sentences with the possibility of parole. Jones, who is black, was put on death row after being convicted of one murder.

However, we must remember that it is not us who have been hurt and directly affected by Quin’s actions. He did not take away the person of whom meant the most to us. This is what he did to Mattie Long, younger sister to Berthena Bryant and Great Aunt to Quin Jones. 

“Because I was so close to Bert, her death hurt me a lot,” Ms Long explained in a letter requesting clemency for her great nephew. 

“Even so, God is merciful,” she has said that Quin’s remorse is evident and that she herself can see how much change has taken place; she writes to him and visits him in prison. 

Ms Long is sincere in saying that “Quintin can not bring her back. I can’t bring her back. I am writing this to ask you to please spare Quentin’s life.” 

It is sure that by ending Quin’s life more trauma is to be brought upon the family. 

Quin does not deny culpability despite a brutal childhood entangled in poverty, violence, neglect, abuse and addiction. He does not blame those circumstances for his actions and expresses deep remorse, for a long time believing that he deserved to die for his actions. 

When asked “How is the person you are now different from the person you were when you got on death row 21 years ago?” 

Quin responded: 

“More thoughtful. Love myself more. It took me years to forgive myself. Another thing that helped me out was my great-aunt Mattie. It was her sister. So by her loving me enough to forgive me, it gave me the strength to try to do better and want to do better. 

During his 21 years on death row, Quinn has been the embodiment of a prison success story. At first, he entered and unimaginable low yet, through prayer, sobriety, reconciliation with his family and longstanding correspondence with pen pals, he has found a way to live a meaningful life whilst also enhancing the lives of others. 

A 9 year old girl form England, Niamh, thinks of Quin as an elder brother, “Always remember that you are somebody and never let anyone else tell you otherwise” Quin wrote to Niamh in January. In addition to this and of particular notability, Quin also helped a mother cope through the loss of her son to suicide. 

It is evident that Quin had transformed himself and is now the person of whom clemency exists for.

As a society, we are constantly passing judgement on people we barely know, sometimes justly so, but the greatest judgements that can be made of Quintin Phillippe Jones and this story of injustice is that human beings are capable of atonement. 

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