The U.S. Marshals Service says the privacy rights of a man who pleaded guilty to the 2008 kidnap, rape and murder of his 12-year-old niece far outweigh the rights of taxpayers to see the man they will pay to keep behind bars for the rest of his life.
The press corps and the Vermont chapter of the ACLU scored a major victory in the Vermont Legislature last week. Lawmakers approved a change in the public records law that gives citizens access to records associated with police investigations of criminal activity. Gov. Peter Shumlin supported opening police records to public scrutiny, and he is expected to sign the legislation into law this month.
The moral of the story is this: Chafee did the right thing for Rhode Island and transparency by releasing the report. Sometimes it takes the media, citizens and open-government advocates paying attention to the issues and what is going on beneath the surface to encourage our elected officials to do the right thing. Next time, I hope we will see transparency in the first instance so we have less grist for talk radio, perhaps, but more of a trusting partnership between the government and its people. After all, “trust Chafee” is our governor’s motto. Perhaps we should add to that “trust the people; we can handle the truth.”