Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  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 Land Bank Authority Announces Opening of Registration to Give Away a Free Home
Tuesday, August 13, 2019
The Chicago Crusader

NEW ILLINOIS LAW ENDS $120 FEE TO CLEAR FALSE CRIMINAL RECORDS IN COOK COUNTY
Friday, August 09, 2019
Illinois Policy

Top Cook County Jail chess players take on the world
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Public defender takes shots at Chicago Police gun offender webpage
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Commentary: Data alone won’t stop Chicago gun violence; Cook County needs a public ‘Violence Reduction Dashboard’
Wednesday, August 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Jail detainees take on inmates around the world in online chess tournament
Tuesday, August 06, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Here’s What You Need To Know About The Ongoing Bail Debate In Chicago
Monday, August 05, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County Jail hosts international chess tournament
Monday, August 05, 2019
WGN Chicago

Cook County property taxes are due today, Aug. 1.
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Forest Preserves of Cook County Celebrate Dan Ryan Woods Investments
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Defender

Cook County TIFs generate $1.2 billion
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Changes coming to Cook County assessor’s office
Thursday, August 01, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

In Chicago, TIF Revenues Soaring
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
WTTW News

A controversial tax subsidy program will generate a record $1.2 billion in revenue. Here’s what the number means for Chicago.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Group to rally in support of Kim Foxx as challengers emerge
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Report: Incarceration Rates Drop Nearly 20% Under Kim Foxx
Monday, July 29, 2019
WTTW Chicago

Lightfoot blames bond court reform for gun violence
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Chicago Reporter

Cook County Health Hires Audit Firm To Review Scathing Inspector General Report
Thursday, July 25, 2019
WBEZ News

Former County Commissioner Shocked Animal Abuser Registry He Worked To Create Was Never Used
Thursday, July 25, 2019
CBS Chicago

No one on County Board sharing Arroyo’s view of inspector general
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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