The Dominion Post – Gov. Jim Justice has made an art form out of speaking much but saying little, and his meaningless verbal abstractions were on full display at a news briefing earlier this month as he non-answered questions about West Virginia jails’ myriad problems. If you sifted through enough of the ramblings and Justice-isms, you could eventually come up with what amounted to “We’re still looking ” or “We’ll keep looking.”
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Justice’s administration has been equally opaque. There were, of course, the missing emails and records that brought the wrath of a judge down upon the state. Then there was the supposed magic recovery of some of the missing material. More than that, though, is the sheer inaccessibility of information that should be public record.
As Sara Whitaker, criminal legal policy analyst for the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy, pointed out, “Right now, the media and the public must rely on open records requests to obtain any information about deaths in these jails, the number and nature of grievances filed and even how many people are in the state’s custody on a given day. There is nothing stopping the governor from making this information available online.”