The Kentucky Secretary of State's office has clarified to the New Era that the 15-year sentence of Dayton Jones was commuted, not pardoned.
“The conclusion was, that since it said in the final paragraph (of former Gov. Matt Bevin’s letter) that it was a concession,” said Miranda Combs, public relations director for the secretary of state’s office, in reference to the letter being a commotion and not a pardon. “That’s what we’re going to go with.”
Attorneys around the state had argued whether Jones had been pardoned or had his sentence commuted since Dec. 11 when the Secretary of State’s office announced the former governor’s action.
Bevin wrote that he had commuted the sentence of Jones, but the announcement was written on the letterhead of a pardon. Bevin gave no reason for the commutation — or a pardon — so the secretary of state’s office published it as a full, unconditional pardon in the executive journal.
As part of a full pardon, Jones was no longer required to be registered as a sex offender. The reversal to a commutation requires Jones to register but as of press time, Jones was not in the Kentucky sex offender registry.
On Jan. 9, Jones was indicted by the Oldham County Grand Jury for one count of first-degree promoting contraband and one count of second-degree persistent felony offender.
Jones was caught on Sept. 14 with suboxone, an opioid used to treat addiction, while in Luther Luckett Correctional Complex, according to Oldham County Commonwealth’s Attorney Courtney Baxter. The drugs were sent to a lab for testing and the results confirmed Dec. 30 that it was suboxone.
The indictment was delayed because of the testing, but the jury was able to indict Jones before the new year.
A pardon would have wiped Jones’ criminal record involving the assault clean, but a commutation only ends his sentence while keeping it on his permanent record.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Jones had 10 other violations in his three years in prison.
As of press time, Jones had not yet been placed in jail for the new charges.