The Virginia Department of Corrections issued an unusual news release Wednesday complaining about a news story published nearly two weeks ago by the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
The article had described how lawmakers voted down legislation that would have created a layer of independent oversight over the department.
Prison officials complained in their release that the article implied the department “is determined to reject all forms of external oversight or authority.” They also took issue with the fact that it included a recounting of some of the numerous lawsuits the department has settled, calling the issues unrelated.
“That VADOC voluntarily elected to settle a case, conserving taxpayer dollars in the process, should not be construed as an admission of wrongdoing or a sign that VADOC needs additional ‘oversight,’” the release said.
The lawmaker who proposed the oversight legislation, Del. Patrick Hope, D-Arlington, has said in past years that one of the goals of creating a prison ombudsman is to reduce the number of lawsuits faced by the department.
Last year, he accused the department of attempting to subtly tank the proposal by attaching an $11 million price tag to it when he said a similar program had been started in Washington State for less than $2 million.
Hope tweeted a link to the press release Wednesday afternoon alongside the word chutzpah and its dictionary definition.
“VADOC has a lot of ‘chutzpah’ to put something out with this level ,” he wrote.
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