Joining PRJA makes sense

Published 4:40 pm Thursday, October 20, 2016

For more than 18 months, Lunenburg County supervisors — and their counterparts in neighboring counties — have been deciding not only whether they should join forces to form the Piedmont Regional Jail Authority (PRJA), but how they should do so.

Thursday’s board of supervisors meeting provided some insight into at least this county’s thinking.

The proposed PRJA would include members not only from Lunenburg County, but Amelia, Buckingham, Cumberland, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties as well. According to Lunenburg County Administrator Tracy Gee, each county would select three members for the PRJA board: a constitutional officer, preferably from law enforcement, such as the sheriff; and either two elected officials (such as supervisors) or one elected official and a finance director.

More important than what some might see as minutia is how joining the authority legally and financially protects the county. Legally, the authority would assume primary liability so that counties are not named in lawsuits (there are several against individual counties in connection with the jail, according to County Attorney Frank F. Rennie IV). Financially, if one county does not meet certain financial obligations, other authority members would not be penalized.

As Rennie put it: “It makes all the sense in the world.”