Sullivan County’s proposed “Pre-trial release” plan could bring hefty price tag

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SULLIVAN Co., Tenn. (WJHL)- More discussion on a heated topic in Sullivan county- the overcrowded jail.

“Commissioner: Do we have two years?

Cassidy: Well, we’ve had six.”

Thursday evening the Sullivan Co. commission discussed moving $817,000 from the general fund to the corrections budget to add 10 additional officers to start a “pre-trial release” program.

“The judge releases these individuals, it doesn’t mean they just ‘Okay, bye. Have a good day.’ They can put stipulations on that with the drug testing, with the monitoring,” said Sheriff Jeff Cassidy.

This comes after last week’s called meeting where Sheriff Cassidy along with judges and attorneys presented this plan to help alleviate the overcrowding jail crisis- a presentation that received high praise from most of the commissioners.

PREVIOUS STORY: Sheriff Cassidy pushes for pre-trial release as short-term fix for overcrowded jail

“I commend the Sheriff on bringing to us a solution to solve the overcrowding here,” said Commissioner Larry Crawford.

Implementing this program means the county would have a recurring addition to the corrections budget of $564,800 each year. Something those on the commission worry can’t be funded.

“Last year, we voted to spend money, then we voted not to fund it, so we’re going to be back in the same thing next year,” said Commissioner Colette George.

Another concern – possibly having to find the funds to build a completely new county jail.

“I just beg that we figure out how to rein in the budget here pretty soon,” said Commissioner David Akard.

If this program receives a “yes” from the commission at next Thursday’s meeting- it could begin as early as February or March. Sheriff Cassidy has already identified 91 inmates who will qualify for the program.

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