After 10 months without executions, the state of Texas murdered Quintin Jones on May 19, 2021. He was executed despite the plea for mercy of more than 183K people around the world who signed a petition asking for clemency, despite celebrities like Mandy Patinkin or Sarah Paulson who used their platforms on social media to spread the word about him. And more important, he was executed despite the plea for clemency made by the victim's family who was also his family. They expressed very clearly that executing Quintin would make them suffer like they suffered 20 years ago when the victim was killed. And in fact, this family has been victimized twice.
Quintin Jones' story is not a special story. This is the story of many Black American people who grow up in poverty and neglect, surrounded by drugs and violence. This is the story of a man who, like many others in this situation, made a terrible mistake that sent him to death row, a place that doesn't allow second chances. But Quintin Jones never blamed his childhood or his environment as he explained in a video recorded by his close friend Suleika Jaouad, writer and journalist. This same friend set up a webpage for Quintin that was an eye opener for many people who are not familiar with death row. It showed Quintin as a man who despite a tragic mistake committed 20 years ago, was a positive influence for the people around him on Texas death row, for his family and friends in the US and around the world. Quintin was described by all the people who knew him as a kind, respectful and thoughtful man, someone who worked every single day to better himself.
After his execution his friends wrote: "Though we did not save the life of Quintin Jones, we did manage to tell his story and spread the word of his redemption. He died knowing that he was seen."
Billy Wardlow was executed by the state of Texas on July 8, 2020 in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. Shortly before his death he wrote to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for clemency: "I came to death row a scared boy who made poor choices. I will leave death row a man that others admire because I weathered the storms of life with the help of people that loved me." Billy was only 18 when he committed a tragic mistake. He was convicted and sentenced to death under the claim of future dangerousness. In Texas a death sentence requires a jury to unanimously agree that a person who committed a crime will be a future danger to society. They were wrong about Billy. He spent 25 years on death row and was known by all (staff and prisoners) as a model prisoner. His attorney wrote about him: "He is, as a human being, one of the best of the best." Billy Wardlow was a transformed man who had to grow up on death row and never had a chance to be in the free world the man loved by so many.