Cook County officials are reporting that the use of electronic monitoring at Cook County Jail is increasing. I want to take this opportunity to discuss how the electronic monitoring program works at Cook County Jail because I frequently receive phone calls from clients and it has become obvious that there's a general misunderstanding of how it works. Generally, electronic monitoring is an alternative to confining a defendant in Cook County Jail while their cases is pending in court. First, electronic monitoring only applies to defendants charged with non-violent offenses. In order to be eligible for electronic monitoring, a judge has to determine that a particular defendant is eligible to be placed on electronic monitoring. This is usually done at the bond hearing when the attorney for the defendant asks a judge to make that determination. The judge will sometimes make this determination in lieu of a bond or as part of a bond or an alternative if bond is not posted. The ultimate decision about whether a defendant can be placed on electronic monitoring is made by the Sheriff's office. If the jail is overcrowded, the Sheriff starts placing inmates on electronic monitoring to ease overcrowding. A bracelet outfitted with a GPS device is placed on the defendant's ankle. If a defendant strays from their home, or the designated boundaries of their confinement, an alarm is triggered and an investigator is sent to go arrest the defendant.
Cook County officials are starting to realize that its much cheaper to place defendants on electronic monitoring than it costs to keep them confined in Cook County Jail. As a result, they are taking a more pro-active approach in trying to put more people on electronic monitoring. The daily cost for keeping someone locked up in Cook County Jail is $142.60 while the daily cost for keeping someone on electronic monitoring is $64.74. Cook County Jail has a maximum capacity of 9,300 prisoners. As of yesterday the number of prisoners in Cook County Jail was 9,100 prisoners. The President of the Cook County Board is noticing the economic benefits placing more defendants on electronic monitoring and has asked that the Public Defenders ask that judges allow defendants to be placed on electronic monitoring. In 2010 the daily average number of defendants on electronic monitoring was 395. As of September 27 of this year, 829 people were on electronic monitoring. These numbers are expected to go higher as Cook County officials are looking to use electronic monitoring more and more as they attempt to shave costs and save valuable dollars.
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