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Funding

Justice’s announcement important to thousands

An announcement made Wednesday, without fanfare by Gov. Jim Justice’s office, was the most important news of the day for tens of thousands of Mountain State residents. It was that Justice has directed WorkForce West Virginia to apply for federal funds under a new round of benefits for people unemployed due to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Under the new round of funding, recipients can receive $400 a week in benefits. One-fourth of that is paid by the state, the rest comes from the federal government.

An earlier round of special unemployment benefits cut off more than a month ago. That means many unemployed West Virginians are in dire need of assistance.

Justice’s order, then, should specify that every step of the process is to be expedited. This is a situation in which every day makes a difference.

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If two former correctional officers at a southern West Virginia detention center for juveniles did what they are accused of, they should be punished severely.

State officials say the two ex-officers, Alexanderia Shelby and Larissa Mackall, helped an 18-year-old male escape from the Donald R. Kuhn Juvenile Detention Center in Boone County. His freedom was short-lived; he was recaptured just three hours after escaping. He is being held now at the Southwestern Regional Jail in Logan County.

Neither woman is employed any longer, a Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation spokesman said this week. Both have been charged with conspiracy.

If indeed the women facilitated the escape — as their communications on social media seem to indicate — they should be charged with additional offenses. The young man they allegedly helped is accused of murder.

Helping an accused murderer escape custody puts the surrounding community at risk. That calls for harsh punishment.

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