Editorial: Judge should step up and close this revolving door

Michael Gold, Editor

I don’t find myself telling judges what to do very often; but, I am hoping that Judge Maltz, or Judge Tinlin, or any of the other judges before whom former St Augustine City Commissioner Errol D. Jones has appeared, will step up and close the revolving door at the St Johns County Detention Facility, then find this man an appropriate program where he can get the help he desperately needs.

Last Thursday, Historic City News reported Jones’ eleventh arrest following an altercation with his brother (Robert) who lives with him in the house on Julia Street that belonged their late mother, and Robert Jones’ girlfriend, who was living in the house at the time.

Jones was released Saturday afternoon after he posted $1,000 bail through a local bondsman.  Unfortunately, this new arrest violated the terms of his probation from a previous arrest for, essentially, the same thing.  Jones’ probation officer has sought to revoke his latest probation.  Presto, Jones is re-arrested Tuesday, January 22, 2019 and he’s back in the St Johns County Jail for violation of his probation — where he is being held without bond.

Jones lost his bid for re-election in 2012, and since his first arrest in October 2011, he has managed to accumulate a total of 12 arrests by St Augustine City Police.  Quite a rap sheet for a 75-year-old man who is not a common criminal, but who is more likely addicted to alcohol and appears to suffer from depression and anxiety, or some other uncontrollable mental debility.

The City Manager, John Regan, who is aware of the repeated “arrest-release-re-arrest” cycle that has been recurring with the former city commissioner, has not intervened with Chief of Police Barry Fox to stop this ongoing exercise in futility and divert Jones into an appropriate treatment program. 

Trying to treat Jones’ recurring domestic episodes as if they were common criminal activity is only ignoring the obvious problem and making matters worse for a man who grew up and attended school here then served his community as an elected official for years to follow.

Since city officials are not going to take the initiative on their own, I think the time is long overdue for a local judge to say, “enough is enough”. Jones is a man who has built bridges for this City to the black community in Lincolnville and West Augustine.  At this point, Jones deserves better treatment so that he can commit to deal with his anger issues and regain his coping skills then move forward with the remainder of his life.