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Gov. Sanders’ Board of Corrections appointee fired from police department in 2018 over sexual misconduct

Cummins Unit Prison
Michael Hibblen
Little Rock Public Radio

Jamol Jones, who was recently appointed by Gov. Sarah Sanders to the Arkansas Board of Corrections (BOC), was fired from the Benton Police Department in 2018 after having a sexual relationship with a minor, according to city records.

The revelation comes as a conflict continues between the BOC and Gov. Sanders over actions taken by former Corrections Secretary Joe Profiri and Sanders’ demands to add more beds to the prison system.

Jones, of Benton, was appointed in late January to the BOC as chair of the Post-Prison Transfer Board. The position serves at the will of the governor, and Jones replaced John Felts.

According to information provided to Talk Business & Politics by the City of Benton, Jones was hired April 25, 2018, as a police officer by the Benton Police Department. Several months later, Jones would begin a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old female after meeting at Planet Fitness.

An investigation conducted by Benton Police Captain Kevin Russell confirmed the relationship, including that Jones, then age 25, received oral sex from the juvenile female in the parking lot of a U.S. Post Office in Benton. The investigation also found that the girl “pursued” Jones and he “initially resisted her advances.”

Following Russell’s investigation, an administrative hearing was held Nov. 13, after which Jones was fired.

“On Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at 10:00 A.M., there was an administrative hearing held in the Office of the Chief of Police. It was decided after the hearing that you in fact did violate the Benton Police Department Policy and Procedures listed below. Due to the seriousness of this violation, your employment with the Benton Police Department is terminated effective immediately,” noted part of a letter dated Nov. 13 from Benton Police Chief Scotty Hodges.

According to info provided by the City of Benton, the Saline County Prosecutor declined to file charges against Jones. (Link here for a copy of the PDF that includes information about the investigation.)

Sanders’ spokesperson Alexa Henning provided Talk Business & Politics this response when asked about Jones’ dismissal from the Benton Police Department: “Jamol bravely served our nation in the Army and protected his community as a police officer providing him with the experience and knowledge to serve on the Post-Prison Transfer Board and the Board of Corrections.”

In addition to being a former Benton police officer, Jones is an Army veteran and a former police officer with the U.S. Department of Defense. His most recent job was with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. At the VA, Jamol was a corporal assigned to the patrol and training divisions.

Problems between the BOC and Sanders and Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin became public on Nov. 17 when Sanders and Griffin held a press conference during which the governor blasted the BOC for rejecting most of a request to provide more than 600 additional beds in the prison system. The BOC is the governing body of the state’s prison system. BOC members at the time made it clear that the prison system lacked the staff to responsibly add more beds.

The BOC on Jan. 10 fired Corrections Secretary Joe Profiri, who was appointed by Sanders and is a member of her cabinet, for acting against decisions made by the BOC.

On Jan. 19, Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Patricia James blocked legislation used by Sanders in an attempt to take control of prisons from the BOC. Sanders and Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin had said that Acts 185 and 659, passed in the 2023 Legislative Session, gave the governor direct authority over leadership at the Department of Corrections.

The BOC recently named former Arkansas Senator Eddie Joe Williams as interim executive in charge.