Sullivan commissioners: Give judges, sheriff 60 days to find way to reduce inmate population

J. H. Osborne • Updated Oct 10, 2019 at 12:08 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — At its monthly work session Thursday night, the Sullivan County Commission will discuss at least a couple of proposals regarding fixing problems at the county’s long-overcrowded jail facilities.

Other items on the agenda include a proposal to return to daytime meetings and another to update or change the rules under which the commission conducts public business.


Commissioners are being asked to “request” the following officials “work together and develop a plan or plans recommending methods and identifying their expected effectiveness to reduce the inmate population ... in the short term” and present such plan(s) to the commission within 60 days:

• Sullivan County sheriff

• Sullivan County district attorney

• Sullivan County public defender

• Sullivan County Criminal Court judges

• Sullivan County General Sessions judges

The resolution calling for this “request” states expansion of the jail facilities will take at least three years to complete, “and methods capable of being implemented and reducing inmate population in the short term are needed.”

A second jail-related resolution seeks permission for the county mayor and county purchasing agent to hire a construction management advisor for the jail project (be it an expansion or a new build).

The resolution states the county needs someone in that position to “oversee the project on behalf of Sullivan County in accordance with architectural standards and Tennessee Corrections Institute guidelines; to coordinate site evaluations and environmental assessments; to propose a project budget upon review of recommendations; to walk the site and perform construction observation on a regular basis; and to provide various other services as needed throughout the project’s completion.”

Meeting time

For years, the Sullivan County Commission’s monthly business meeting was on the third Monday of the month and started at 9 a.m. Last year, the current commission voted to change that to the third Thursday and an evening start time of 6:30. A resolution on this month’s agenda seeks to change the start time back to 9 a.m., but leave the date as the third Thursday, beginning in January.