Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced today that her office has awarded the office of Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart up to $1 million in matching grant funds to provide services for individuals who are put on Electronic Monitoring within the Cook County criminal justice system.
The announcement comes on the heels of the latest STAR (Set Targets, Achieve Results) Performance Management Report that showed an increase in detainees being placed on Electronic Monitors, lowering costs to taxpayers and helping reduce the size of the jail population in Cook County.
“Since I was elected to this office, and throughout my campaign, I have stressed the importance of increasing the number of individuals on Electronic Monitoring as means to reduce the jail population,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “As a matter of public safety we will continue to keep close tabs on those who are on Electronic Monitors, but we also want to provide them with the necessary support to become productive citizens. This grant will be a step in the right direction.”
The roughly $1 million in grant funding will help provide services focused on job training in an effort to help reduce recidivism rates. Through this effort, individuals on Electronic Monitors will have increased opportunities to participate in the expansion program already offered by the Sheriff’s Department. These include the Sheriff’s Recycling Program which trains individuals to operate the equipment used in recycling and helps them find private sector employment when released and expanded opportunities to participate in the Sheriff’s Gardening and Carpentry programs at the jail. The Sheriff’s $1 million contribution, which is being matched by the President’s office, comes from the inmate welfare fund, which is a fund made up of profits from sales of commissary sales such as stamps, snacks or toiletries.
The latest STAR report released this week by the President’s office detailed an increase in the use of the Sheriff’s Electronic Monitoring Program which drastically lowers costs (average daily cost for monitoring is cited at $64.74 whereas the average daily cost for a detainee at the jail is $142.60, according to a 2010 county industrial engineering study) while promoting re-integration in to the community. President Preckwinkle praised Sheriff Dart’s efforts to increase participation in the Electronic Monitoring program.
“Sheriff Dart and I see eye to eye on this issue and I am very grateful for his efforts,” Preckwinkle said. “I hope to continue partnering with him on this and other important issues with Public Safety.”
Detainees who are put on Electronic Monitoring are only defendants who are not facing violent charges. In 2009, judges were placing less than 100 people awaiting trial on Electronic Monitors. Today, there are 865, not including those on house arrest through alternative sentencing programs.
“We’ve enjoyed working closely with President Preckwinkle and her staff on ways to re-think our approach to Electronic Monitoring,” said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. “We want to ensure that those in the program do not simply sit home and wait for their trial. Our goal is that while they are on EM they are gainfully working and will use the tools we give them to transition into being better and more responsible citizens.”