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All Cook County defendants on electronic monitoring to switch to GPS bracelets by fall
The Cook County sheriff’s office announced Tuesday that the transition to GPS bracelets will be complete in October.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times
by Matthew Hendrickson

All Cook County defendants placed on the sheriff’s office’s electronic monitoring program will be transitioned into wearing GPS ankle bracelets by October, allowing for better tracking of those on house arrest.

GPS ankle bracelets are used by a few of the 3,000 defendants currently on the electronic monitoring program but most have been fitted with ankle bracelets that use radio frequency to alert authorities if they disobey movement restrictions set by a judge.

The radio frequency units work with a control box set up in defendants’ residences and sends out an alert if the defendants stray too far from the box.

GPS uses cellular towers and satellites to monitor compliance and allows for the better tracking.

“The old bracelets only tell us where a person isn’t, the GPS ones also tell us where they are,” sheriff’s spokesman Matt Walberg said Tuesday.

The GPS tracking models also allow for messages — including vibrations, tones and voice calls — to be sent to a defendant through the bracelet, the sheriff’s office said.

The two-way calls will allow a sheriff’s office employee to speak with defendants if they are out of compliance and will allow them to talk back.

Walberg couldn’t say exactly how many GPS bracelets the sheriff’s office would be stocking.

The decision to strictly use GPS ankle bracelets comes as the sheriff’s office tries to address an increase in court orders recommending defendants be placed on electronic monitoring instead of being sent to jail while they await trial.

The county’s supply of electronic monitoring bracelets has been running low — and at times exhausted during the coronavirus pandemic.

When the full supply of electronic bracelets were already in use, some defendants ordered onto electronic monitoring were forced to remain at the jail even after posting bond as they waited for a bracelet to become available.


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