Michigan state Rep. Jewell Jones (D-Inkster), an elected official who appears to be allergic to staying out of legal trouble, was arraigned Wednesday on charges of bringing a weapon into county jail and attempting to escape custody. Jones was originally arrested in April on charges of drunk driving in an incident that allegedly led to his vehicle ending up in a ditch and him threatening the arresting officers with a career-ending call to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Since that arrest, Jones, 26, has been accused of violating the terms of his bond multiple times by, among other things, testing positive for alcohol and tampering with his ankle monitor.
A judge on Friday ordered him to undergo mental health evaluation during a pre-trial hearing.
But it is his latest alleged violation that has him looking at the very real possibility of spending up to a decade in prison.
According to The Detroit News, Jones was arrested Tuesday and had his bond revoked. After his hearing, he was accused of bringing a handcuff key into the Livingston County jail by taping it to the bottom of his shoe.
You might be wondering: How is a handcuff key considered to be a weapon? Well, according to Magistrate Jerry Sherwood, any object that can be used to injure an individual or assist in an escape is considered a weapon.
The felony weapons charge is punishable by up to four years in prison while the attempted escape charge is punishable by up to six years. Sherwood set Jones’ bond at $100,000 cash or surety, the News reported.
“Clearly this defendant has shown through his actions, through his decisions, through his choices, he has a total disregard to follow court orders, to conform his behaviors to the law, and he has a total disregard for public safety,” Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Henry said at the hearing. “He’s a risk to our community. He has shown this court that he is not going to follow terms and conditions of bond that are set by this court. He has shown through his actions that he will lie to the court, and he will continue to do whatever he wants to do.”
Livingston County Sheriff Mike Murphy showed similar contempt for Jones calling him “a real piece of work” and an “embarrassment to all elected officials.” (I mean, I can name about a dozen officials off the top of my head, including our last president, who brought us across the “embarrassment to all elected officials” bridge a long time ago, but whatever.)
Byron Nolen, an attorney representing Jones who also happens to be a former mayor of Inkster, said he was frustrated with the charges because the key was allegedly found while Jones was being processed and after he had changed into jail-issued clothing. Nolen argued the key wouldn’t have helped Jones while in lockup as inmates typically are not handcuffed while inside the jail.
OK, true, but this was still some wild Go Go Gadget mess for Jones to pull, and sometimes you just have to take the L you set up for yourself.
Anyway, according to the Detroit Free Press, House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell) has, as of Thursday, stripped Jones of all his legislative duties amid the new charges against him.
“Rep. Jewell Jones’s increasingly disruptive and distracting behavior in the months following his April arrest has eroded my confidence in his ability to conduct the people’s work,” Wentworth said in a statement. “That behavior hit a new low yesterday when he appears to have made a bizarre attempt to escape from jail, potentially resulting in two new charges. Action must be taken to protect the public’s interest. I am now removing Rep. Jones from all House committees and encouraging him to use that time to make changes and take control of his actions.”