Sheriff Dart criticizes judges for putting violent offenders on electronic monitoring

CHICAGO — As Chicago leaders continue to criticize judges letting offenders out on electronic monitoring, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart discussed the program Monday night in a virtual forum.

The electronic monitoring program was implemented back in the 1980s as a way to deal with overcrowding at the Cook County Jail.

Mayor Lightfoot made some bold statements last week about the program — pointing a finger at judges.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said he never wanted judges to use it for those charged with violent offenses.

“I’ve consistently said home monitoring is not a program for people charged with violent offenses,” Dart said.

Cook County has around 2,600 people on electronic monitoring — which is the largest in the country. The number increased dramatically in the last few years due to jail reform and COVID-19 precautions.

“When we first started getting the more serious offenders,” Dart said. “There were just a handful of them and I literally did out a car in front of those houses.”

But once that number got too high, the sheriff said he didn’t have the resources. Dart said more than 75% of the people on electronic monitoring are violent offnders.

“The biggest categories that we have, which has completely flipped from what it used to be, are gun offenses — they represent just under 50%,” Dart said.

Numbers from the Cook County Sheriff’s Office show the following.

  • 90 people charged with murder are free on E.M.
  • 40 people charged with attempted murder are free on E.M.
  • 852 people charged with aggravated gun possession are free on E.M.

“Do you feel safer knowing these numbers? I don’t think any sane person does,” Mayor Lightfoot said.

Sheriff Dart said their data doesn’t show the offenders recommitting crimes, but Mayor Lightfoot said it still sends the wrong message.

“They’re right back on the street walking big as day as if there is zero accountability,” Lightfoot said. “That’s what’s contributing to the level brazenness that we’re seeing on our street.”

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There is a second electronic monitoring program in Cook County that is ran through the chief judge’s office. It’s unknown how many people are on it.

Chicago News