Judge reinstates bond for Rep. Jewell Jones; prosecutors float plea offer

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Howell — Livingston County Judge Michael Hatty reinstated bond Friday for state Rep. Jewell Jones on the condition that he be placed in the care of a Detroit-area church elder, Paul Turner Jr., paving the way for his possible release from jail. 

Chief Assistant Prosecutor Carolyn Henry also made an offer to Jones that would allow the lawmaker to plead to four misdemeanors and two felony charges while dismissing several others. Part of the deal would allow Jones to utilize a youth sentencing program so that, upon successful completion of probation, his two felony charges would show up as dismissals instead of convictions. 

Byron Nolen, Jones' attorney, said he planned to post bond for Jones Friday and give him time to consider the plea offer. Jones' bond was posted at shortly after 5 p.m. Friday.

Jones has until Dec. 10 to decide whether he'll accept the plea deal offered by prosecutors. 

"That is the offer I have to discuss with him, see what he wants to do," Nolen said. 

The Inkster Democrat, 26, has been in jail for 60 days on bond violations. Hatty reinstated Jones' bond related to drunken driving charges at $100,000 personal recognizance bond and lowered a second bond related to jail violations from $100,000 cash surety to 10% of $100,000.

The conditions of his bond include a GPS and alcohol tether, the surrender of all police equipment, a 9 p.m. curfew, the opportunity to get counseling and treatment, as well as attend work in Lansing. 

Jones is a member of the Michigan National Guard and the Inkster police reserve.

State Rep. Jewell Jones, D-Inkster, looks toward the media gallery prior to the start of his hearing related to drunken driving charges against him.

"With these things in place, the public safety is protected and you will appear in court in the future," Hatty said.

"Mr. Jones, I don't want any excuses," he added.

Turner runs CHOICE-Behavioral Health Management, an alcohol treatment program in the Detroit area and has known Jones and his family for most of the lawmaker's life. He is among many family members and friends who have sat in the gallery through many of Jones' hearings.

"He's never been like other young men. He's always been focused. He's always been goal-oriented," Turner said.  "...So for this to happen is terrible.

"I believe it's my duty to find out what is going on, to assist him in every way I can to get him back on track," he said.

The plea offer made Friday would require Jones to plead guilty to two counts of resisting and obstructing police, one count of operating while intoxicated, one count of possession of a weapon while intoxicated, one count of reckless driving and one count of escape of lawful custody. 

Henry said the prosecutor's office, under the plea offer, would agree to dismiss two other resisting and obstructing charges, one count of driving under the influence with a high blood alcohol content and two other higher-end escape charges. 

Jones would be eligible for a program called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act on the resisting and obstructing counts as well as possession of a weapon. The program allows those up to age 25 to keep their convictions private upon successful completion of sentencing and parole. 

Jones, who was 25 at the time of his initial April arrest, joined 79 other House lawmakers in December 2020 to expand the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act to benefit people through the age of 25. 

Jones was arrested April 6 after his black Chevy Tahoe drifted in and out of lanes along Interstate 96 before pulling off the shoulder and into a ditch, according to Michigan State Police reports. His blood alcohol content was 0.19, more than twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to the police report. 

He was accused of struggling with troopers after the crash and allegedly told officers that he'd call the governor and that he had oversight of the Michigan State Police budget.

In the months since his arrest, Jones has been brought before the court on three bond violations. 

The lawmaker was accused of having misled the court about attending Michigan National Guard training when he later checked in on social media at a Planet Fitness and attended legislative committee hearings. He is alleged to have failed to pay to keep his alcohol tether operating. He also was accused of consuming alcohol in September and then tampering with his tether, allegations for which he took responsibility in court.

Jones was taken into custody Sept. 14 after his third bond violation. On Sept. 15, he was charged with two additional counts related to his alleged smuggling of a handcuff key into the jail a day earlier. The key is alleged to have been found taped to Jones' foot when he was being processed upon entry to the jail.