Seriously consider authority for jail

Published 1:21 pm Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The concept of creating an authority for the Piedmont Regional Jail is one begging serious consideration from its member counties.

County supervisors across Prince Edward, Buckingham, Cumberland, Amelia, Nottoway and Lunenburg — and their county administrators — need to take a hard look at the possible advantages and disadvantages of such an option.

A jail board currently governs the jail, made up of representatives from its member counties.

For many years, the regional jail has been considered one of the most cost-efficient in the state. Recently, the facility received a 100 percent accreditation rating by the Virginia Department of Corrections based on an audit process involving inspections of 125 standards.

We think the formation of an authority would only strengthen the jail’s operations, not to mention benefitting its member counties.

Cumberland County Attorney and Administrator Vivian Seay Giles said creating a jail authority would be a “smart thing to do.”

During a meeting held recently regarding the idea, Giles referenced liability concerns as the six counties, which created the regional jail, could be involved with litigation if the jail were sued — similar to a situation where the Crossroads Community Services Board and its member counties are named in a civil lawsuit.

This would certainly limit any liability to taxpayers by taking county boards of supervisors out of the ring of potential litigation. “I think the possibility of the jail authority certainly has its pros and cons, but I do think it will be beneficial,” said Buckingham County Administrator Rebecca S. Carter.

County supervisors should take heed of this advice.