Sullivan County’s jail is overcrowded. The county’s only halfway house closes next month

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Officials with local charity organizations said they received notification that the John R. Hay House will close at the end of next month.

United Way of Greater Kingsport Director Danelle Glasscock told News Channel 11 that she received the news in an email last month. United Way sponsors two of the organization’s programs – The Brown Annex, which provides recovery and rehabilitation to men, and the Hosanna House, which provides the same services to women.

Glasscock said she received word from the organization’s board of directors last month that their department of corrections grant had been discontinued and that the nonprofit would close on June 30.

She said the programs that United Way sponsors will cease as a result. Over the past two years, she said that  United Way donated $39,000 to each program per year.

“The John R. Hay House is the only halfway house program that we know about right now for offenders in Sullivan County,” she said. “This will be a loss for Sullivan County as we know our jails are overcrowded.”

Glasscock said she wasn’t sure what would be the alternative for offenders that would otherwise be sentenced to the Hay House and that that decision would be up to the judges and the organization’s board of directors.

In a written statement, Hay House officials said that they arrived to the conclusion to close the house after careful consideration, and that staff are in the process of transferring those who are currently under the supervision of the Hay House program. 

“Many of these factors were outside of the Board’s control and posed considerable concerns to the successful continuation of the program,” the statement said.

Established in 1981, the John R. Hay House has served as an alternative to incarceration for offenders for almost 40 years. 

Glasscock said United Way of Greater Kingsport is very involved with tackling drug issues in the community. While she said the focus is shifting to prevention and education, she said there are countless stories of people who have been helped by the Hay House’s programs.

She noted two employees of a local business that were sentenced to the Hay House instead of jail time.

 “By staying there at night and going and doing their regular jobs during the day, they had a continuation of income, they were able to provide for their families, they learned their lesson, they got their lives back together,” Glasscock said.

She added that she’d heard from the organization’s board members that there are plans to launch a smaller program focused on helping women, tentatively dubbed the Hosanna Recovery House. She stressed those plans aren’t yet set to paper, though.

“We hope they’ll be able to do that, that has not yet been written, but we hope if anyone’s interested in helping support a new program starting that they would let us know,” Glasscock said. “We’d love to link groups together that could help us recover from this in the future.”

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