This op-ed by ACLU-WV Community Outreach Director Mollie Kennedy appeared in the June 4 edition of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.  

During his May 31 COVID-19 press briefing, Gov. Jim Justice made the shocking and baseless claim that building more jails in West Virginia will somehow prevent mass shootings in schools.

Journalists pressed the governor on what steps his government could take to safeguard against such atrocities. He made several tired deflections – blaming violent video games, pornography, and immigration (all things that exist in countries where mass shootings are incredibly rare).

But Justice closed by bizarrely stating West Virginia needs “more and more and more” jails to prevent mass shootings.

Jails are designed to hold people awaiting trial (and who are therefore presumed innocent) and those found guilty of misdemeanors. Increasing their number would have zero impact in deterring people who have decided to go on killing sprees.

Building more jails would, however, bankrupt local governments across West Virginia and inevitably lead to more preventable deaths of incarcerated people.

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