Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Electronic monitoring battle a costly one
Dart and Evans at odds over decisions on defendants

Friday, August 22, 2008

by Hal Dardick

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has severely cut the number of criminal defendants released on electronic home monitoring, boosting the population at the crowded jail and costing the county millions in expenses.

Dart said he's keeping more than 1,000 extra defendants in jail each day to protect public safety because he thinks Cook County judges—rather than his staff—should decide which inmates go home. But critics say Dart is dodging his responsibility to make such decisions under an ongoing federal court order aimed at eliminating jail overcrowding.

Dart, who began reducing home monitoring in 2006 as chief of staff under the previous sheriff, has escalated the practice since being elected to the post later that year. He is sparring with Chief Circuit Judge Timothy Evans about which of them decides who gets placed in the monitoring program.

"For me, blindly, to be letting people out, is not right," Dart said recently, contending judges are in a better position to determine whether defendants could harm someone, or flee prosecution, when placed on a monitor.

Dart has reduced the number of offenses a defendant can face and still be considered for monitoring, and he only releases those still eligible when the jail nears its maximum population of nearly 10,000.

The average daily number of defendants on monitors once topped 1,500. That dropped to 406 during the first six months of this year, according to a recent report by a federal court monitor, and sheriff's data shows it has dropped below 300 in recent weeks.

To jail someone for a day costs more than $100, compared to $35.24 a day to place them on a monitor, sheriff's data show. If 1,000 a day more were on the monitors for a full year, the savings would top $23 million.

The monitors are used in many jurisdictions around
Illinois
and across the country, both before trial and after conviction, to lower jail costs and foster rehabilitation. Judges typically decide who is placed in such programs.

CookCounty
began using monitors in 1988 to track lower-risk defendants released to control jail crowding under a longstanding consent decree in a federal class-action lawsuit known as Duran.

Evans said Dart is bound by Duran to decide which defendants get taken home with electronic bracelets strapped to their ankle. "As long as the Duran decree is still the law . . . the sheriff has to do what the sheriff has to do under that decree," he said.

Evans said he hopes to create "a model pretrial system that has never been in place anywhere in the country." The advice of behavioral experts would be given to judges, and made available to the sheriff's staff, to make decisions about bail and monitoring, he said.

Locke Bowman, one of the plaintiffs' attorneys in Duran, said that if Dart would release as many pre-trial detainees as his predecessors, jail overcrowding might end for the first time in more than a quarter of a century.

"I just don't understand why the minute we are in striking distance of the decree, we can't do electronic monitoring as we have in the past," Bowman said. He conceded that "in a perfect world" judges would decide who is released.

In its report last week the
John Howard Association, the federal monitor in Duran, concluded the jail remains overcrowded, though at far lower numbers than in previous years. The report, which documented the decreasing number of defendants on home monitoring, also addressed the battle between Dart and Evans.

"As criminal justice professionals, staff of the John Howard Association sides with the sheriff," agreeing the courts should decide who is released on electronic monitoring. But the association's report also takes note of the Duran order directing the sheriff to use "release mechanisms . . . for the purpose of reducing overcrowding."

Dart points to language in a modification to the Duran decree. It states, in part, that judges had "the primary and direct responsibility" for releasing pre-trial detainees.

But other language in the modification ultimately led to sheriff's personnel deciding who went home on electronic monitoring when the program was launched.

"I think they really were expecting the judiciary to step up to the plate and do something," Dart said. "They didn't expect them to put their heads in the sand for 20 years."

Failing Evans' agreement to take over the decisions, Dart has asked the court to vacate the 25-year-old order so a new case can be filed that includes the
CookCounty judiciary.



Recent Headlines

Cook County circuit clerk says city owes $13M in fees
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Chciago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County faces $177 million in deficits over next two budget years
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Cook County facing 'difficult and challenging' $82 million budget shortfall
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preckwinkle: $82M Budget Hole Means ‘Difficult Choices’ For Cook County
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Editorial: A Chicago revival: The Lazarus of Harrison Street
Friday, June 15, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Growing food, community
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Help Squad: Consumers can file lawsuits and other legal documents online —some free via an online fee waiver
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Residents speak out as Wilmette Board introduces minimum wage and sick time ordinances
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County's bid to avoid attorney fees for paraplegic detainee backfires
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Forest Preserves Show Off To Visitors At Daley Plaza
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WBBW News Radio

Peek Inside the Old Cook County Hospital, Vacant for 16 Years
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
NBC Chicago

After 16 years, renovation underway at old Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
WGN Television

Officials break ground on $1 billion overhaul of long-vacant Cook County Hospital
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

George Leighton, legendary Chicago judge and courthouse namesake, dies at 105
Thursday, June 07, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

George Leighton, Chicago judge for whom criminal courthouse is named, dies at 105
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County allows video gambling in unincorporated areas
Wednesday, June 06, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Backpage.com lawsuit against Cook County sheriff dismissed
Saturday, June 02, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Dorothy Brown’s office to get federal monitor for hiring practices
Friday, June 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Coyote puppies tagged, health work-ups conducted in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 31, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

EDITORIAL: Justice delayed 16 months — until a reporter starts nosing around
Wednesday, May 30, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP