State prison to close in Brunswick due to budget cuts

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, VA (WWBT) - Governor Kaine's budget cuts may cost a local community its largest employer. The Brunswick Correctional Center in Lawrenceville is on the chopping block. It's now slated to close in two months.

Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts says more than four hundred people will be out of a job when the state prison closes its doors on November 10. Roberts wants to keep the prison open and push forward on a plan to build a regional jail.

"This is hugely detrimental to this county 420 job losses my mother's worked here for 20 plus years this is a major impact economically and personally," said Sheriff Roberts.

Roberts says he was given little notice Tuesday about the prison closing and a proposal to sell it to the Meherrin River Regional Jail Authority for twenty million dollars.

Kaine's spokesperson says the 30 year old prison can be turned into a regional jail for millions less than what the jail authority was planning to spend building a new facility.

"Wonderful used car pitch I have to agree," said Roberts.

Roberts says the prison doesn't meet jail standards and may need 20 million in renovations. For the last five years, plans have been in the works to build a 100 million dollar regional jail to house inmates from Brunswick, Mecklenburg and Dinwiddie counties.

The jail authority already spent $1.5 million on planning studies and the purchase of a 127 acre farm off Interstate 85 in Alberta. According to Sheriff Roberts, groundbreaking is set to take place in March.

The jail authority was counting on a 50 million dollar state reimbursement. Kaine's spokesperson says the plan is to not go forward with that option. Roberts wishes the state had worked with them, before this week's announcement, in hopes of saving jobs.

"Some can transfer some have been told they need to retire but a lot of them have no jobs," said Roberts.

Kaine's spokesperson says the prison is closing but the state would be open to discussions about what to do with the facility. Meantime, Sheriff Roberts says the state will begin transferring prison inmates next Monday to other facilities across Virginia.

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