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W.Va. State Senator promises to walk back jail secrecy law

By Dan Lawton, Mountain State Spotlight

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — An influential West Virginia state senator said last week that he will soon introduce a bill to undo legislation he sponsored last year making most jail records in the state confidential.

State Senator Charles Trump, R-Morgan

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Trump, R–Morgan, said in an interview he regrets creating a new exemption to the state’s Freedom of Information Act when he sponsored Senate Bill 441.

“We need to make sure that whatever we do doesn’t shrink the accessibility of information from FOIA,” Trump said.

WV Press Editor’s Note: On Friday, Jan. 27, Senator Trump, with co-sponsoring Senators Mike Caputo, D-Marion; Tom Takubo, R-Kanawha, and Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, introduced Senate Bill 495, to amend the state code address correctional institutions an juvenile facilities

Trump’s change in course is a reaction to reporting by Mountain State Spotlight, which revealed that the bill’s primary effect was to further cloak in secrecy what happens inside the state’s notoriously dangerous jails. The bill was passed unanimously in the House and Senate, although Trump, along with two other legislators, later said they regretted supporting it.

Trump won’t be seeking to repeal the entire law, but will instead attempt to return it to an earlier version, in which a Senate amendment ensured that it wouldn’t override the state’s Freedom of Information Act. Doing so will nullify any effect of the law. …

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