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$1 million home arrest plan hits a wall; Sullivan residents can forget about brush pickup, for now

August 10th, 2012 2:30 am by J. H. Osborne

BLOUNTVILLE -- Don't count on those house arrest ankle bracelets just yet (unless you end up in a couple of Kingsport area judges' courts). And forget piling your brush or leaves to the curb if you live outside a city in Sullivan County (at least for now).

Commissioner Ed Marsh's plan to seek proposals from service providers for an ankle bracelet program -- which some say could save up to $1 million by having dozens of nonviolent inmates confined to their homes instead of the county jail -- hit a brick wall Thursday.

Multiple members of the Sullivan County Commission's Budget Committee said they see no reason to pursue the resolution, citing what they say is an already-in-existence program utilized by some Kingsport area judges at the time of sentencing -- and a rejection of the concept by Bristol area judges, who prefer sending convicted offenders to incarceration or public service.

Marsh said he in no way wants to disrupt anything already in place and working to reduce the number of new inmates sent to the overcrowded county jail. But Marsh said the aim of his proposal, talked about by others for more than a year, is to somehow get a program in place for those already in jail.

Budget Committee Vice Chairman Robert White said neither the County Commission nor the sheriff has a role to play in deciding such things.

"That's not the sheriff's call to make," White said of deciding which inmates could complete sentences at home -- and on their own dime, rather than that of taxpayers. "And it's not our call either."

White moved that the committee defer action on Marsh's resolution, and a majority of the five members present agreed.

As for a proposal unveiled earlier this week to once again have the Sullivan County Highway Department provide curbside brush and leaf pickup for residents along county roads, the resolution has been withdrawn from consideration, Budget Committee Chairman Eddie Williams said.

The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m. Aug. 20 on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse.

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