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Morrisey: No one is going to jail over mask mandate

CHARLESTON — Attorney General Patrick Morrisey took to Facebook Wednesday to discuss enforcement of Gov. Jim Justice’s requirement for face coverings.

Morrisey referenced Justice’s comment during his Nov. 13 COVID-19 briefing that he does not “have the right to legislate or deem criminal charges on people.”

Morrisey said he agreed with that statement and wanted to go into further detail.

“Let’s be clear: no one is going to send people to jail and that simply should not be occurring with respect to the governor’s executive orders,” Morrisey said. “Significantly, our office will utilize its criminal appellate enforcement discretion to ensure that no one impinges upon our constitutionally protected freedoms.”

Morrisey wants to keep the state from shutting down again but while still protecting the health of citizens.

While Morrisey asked residents to protect themselves and others by following all guidelines, Morrisey said he and his office want to “protect your freedoms and the due process you are afforded to the fullest extent the law allows,” he said.

Justice said he was sad to see Morrisey’s Facebook post and issued a statement in response.

“With the overwhelming majority of West Virginians in favor of wearing masks, it is extremely disheartening that he doesn’t also strongly support the wearing of masks, especially after all our medical experts on a state and federal level have made it abundantly clear that wearing a mask works to stop this virus,” Justice said.

Justice also said he wants to keep the state open and wearing masks will make that possible.

“I consider it an honor to be in this position. I have always done what I believe in my heart is best for all West Virginians and I promise you I will not stop until we stop this pandemic,” Justice said.

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