Quintin Jones is scheduled to be executed on 19 May but has made one last attempt to try and change his fate. In a published clip, the death row inmate made an appeal to the state governor for clemency. The video shows Jones staring into the camera from behind bulletproof glass as he records his message for the Republican Texas state governor, Greg Abbott.
“I know you don’t know me,” Quintin Jones starts. “I’m writing this letter to ask you if you could find it in your heart to grant me clemency, so I don’t get executed on 19 May. I got two weeks to live, starting today.”
Without a doubt, a man of color making a plea to arguably one of the most foremost advocates of the death penalty has to be among the unlikeliest 11th-hour attempt by a prisoner to save themselves. In the six years that Abbott has served as governor, he has granted clemency only once, and it was to Thomas Whitaker, a white male inmate. So, Jones’s effort is as long a shot as long shots go.
Texas is warming up for a series of judicial killings as the pandemic ends. As the year winds down, the Republican-run state plans to complete five executions (including that of Jones) out of seven nationwide. And it’s precisely what has earned it the health penalty capital of the United States.
However, once you’re able to get past the odds, it’s easy to see that Jones makes a compelling case for sparing his life. In the video, he mentions how he was brought up “in the hood as a Black male” and was taught “to be tough and hard, macho. So yeah, I had a messed-up childhood. Yeah, I had a drug addiction, alcohol addiction. Yeah, I hated myself.”
Jones was arrested in 1996 for beating his 83-year-old great-aunt Berthena Bryant to death with a baseball bat and stealing $30 to buy drugs. Two alleged murders have been linked to him, but he was never charged. Jones’s other great aunt, Bryant’s younger sister Mattie Long, has forgiven him. She has also written to the governor in support of Jones’s bid for clemency.
“Quintin can’t bring [my sister] back; I can’t bring her back. I am writing this to ask you to please spare Quintin’s life.” Jones tells Abbott that he’s different from the person he was as a young when he killed his great-aunt, a crime he has confessed to.
“I’m nothing like that person,” he says. “I became a man on death row, so now you killing the man, and not the child.”
The full-length video is about four minutes long and was first published in the New York Times opinion section. It was filmed from death row in Livingston, Texas.