A Democratic state lawmaker in Michigan was stripped of his committee assignments after prosecutors said that he made an attempt to escape from jail, where he was imprisoned for alleged drunk driving and resisting arrest.
State Rep. Jewell Jones (D) was removed from committees in the state House by Republican House Speaker Jason Wentworth (R) on Thursday, the Detroit Free Press reported. The punishment was handed down after prosecutors from Livingston County said Jones attempted to smuggle a handcuff key into jail following a court hearing on Tuesday where a judge revoked his bond.
"Allegations in this matter allege the Defendant taping a handcuff key to the bottom of his foot with clear tape and was found by Livingston County Corrections Officers upon his incarceration," Livingston County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Carolyn Henry said. Jones was charged with one count of bringing a weapon into a jail and one count of attempting to escape waiting a felony trial.
"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. 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," Wentworth said.
"The Michigan House of Representatives will continue to make sure he has access to every service and every bit of support we have to help him on his journey. I sincerely hope he finally takes advantage of those opportunities and gets the help he needs. The people he serves are counting on him to do so," he added.
House Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski (D) did not comment on Wentworth's decision but expressed support for a fair trial for Jones in a statement.
"Rep. Jones is facing an increasing number of serious charges. Our priority is providing him with the support he needs to meet these challenges and stay healthy. We are focused on ensuring Rep. Jones has a fair pathway to accountability so we can move forward together," she said.
"These are serious charges. It's important to let the investigation proceed and the legal process play out so all the facts can come to light," Lasinski added.
Jones was arrested in April after police said he crashed his vehicle while "super drunk." He was charged with driving while intoxicated, weapons possession, and resisting arrest after he allegedly became combative with police. Officers said that the lawmaker threatened them multiple times by saying he would call Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) about his arrest.