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10 Facts About Pretrial Electronic Monitoring In Cook County

The Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts and the Chicago Council of Lawyers have released a report that catalogs 10 data-based facts about the Cook County Sheriff's Electronic Monitoring (EM) Program to help the public understand the breadth of this program, who exactly is affected, and to make a determination as to whether it is worth the millions of dollars taxpayers spend each year to maintain it.

The report is a comprehensive analysis of public data from the Cook County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) obtained through public sources, such as the CCSO's website, and through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests by Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts. Our analysis examines who is confined, why they are confined, for how long, and whether they are rearrested while on electronic monitoring. Full documentation and code used to generate the analysis in this report can be found here.

The Cook County Sheriff's EM Program is growing, with people being surveilled longer than ever although most people do not violate pretrial conditions put in place by a judge. Our major findings show, among other things:

* The number of people incarcerated in Cook County Jail or on electronic monitoring has risen 23% since April 2020.

* Over 1,000 people have been on EM in Cook County for a year or more; 78% have been detained for over 3 months.

* Over 74% of the people on electronic monitoring (and in jail) are Black.

* Today, 83% of the people on EM in Cook County had to pay a money bond to leave jail.

* On average, 67% of people spend over two days in jail before getting out on electronic monitoring, threatening their jobs, school, family lives, and more.

* Data suggests that electronic monitoring has no meaningful effect on the likelihood of re-arrests or appearances in court.

The Cook County Sheriff's Electronic Monitoring Program appears to perpetuate racial disparities in the criminal legal system and destabilize communities without a return for public safety.

"In 2021, the budget appropriation for the Sheriff's Community Corrections Department was $19,542,855 - even though data shows that people on electronic monitoring have the same very low chance of being rearrested while released pretrial as those who are released without electronic monitoring," says Sarah Staudt, senior policy analyst and staff attorney for the Appleseed Center and Council of Lawyers. "It's time we re-evaluate the way Cook County uses pretrial surveillance."


Comments welcome.


Posted on September 23, 2021

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