In an effort to reduce jail populations and help offenders remain within the community, Cook County officials are expanding the use of electronic monitoring devices. While 2010 saw only 100 defendants in the county with the monitors, this year so far, there have been 865, a serious increase.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the reason for the rise is a collaborative effort between the Sheriff’s Department, the County Board President, the chief judge, state’s attorney, and public defender to run the state’s public safety division more efficiently. Both the Sheriff’s Department and the Cook County court system will be throwing in $1 million to expand the program and revamp it as well.
Most electronic monitoring cases are for those people charged with a crime who can’t afford a bond. Instead of sitting in the jail, they are outfitted with an electronic bracelet, worn around their ankle, which tracks where they are and limits their activity to things prescribed by the court. This could include employment or a job training program, boot camp, or the sheriff’s gardening program for those offenders who aren’t working.
All of those involved hope the changes will lead those involved in the system to becoming “a better citizen”.
Electronic monitoring is cheaper than housing someone in jail and has less of a detrimental effect on the defendant without bypassing accountability for their alleged offense. It’s estimated a day in jail costs the county about $143 while a day under house arrest costs $65, less than half.
Because offenders won’t be missing work or sitting idly in the jail, they can continue to improve their lives and hopefully get back on track to living crime-free.
Currently, the electronic monitoring program is only available to nonviolent offenders, such as drug charges. Obviously, those involved believe keeping those deemed violent off the streets is in the best interest of public safety.
Electronic monitoring is just one example of effective jail alternatives. There are others. Depending on the jurisdiction of your charges, you could be eligible to have your case heard in a specialized drug court, for instance. Or, you could be sentenced to probation in lieu of jail time. Understanding all of the options available to you is something a local defense lawyer can help you with.
If you are charged with a crime and need assistance, contact us today to discuss your case and receive some potentially valuable legal advice.