Electronic Monitor False Alarms Issue Highlighted in Chicago Reader/The Triibe

False alarms involving electronic monitors are a huge issue for clients of the Cook County Public Defender's Office who are placed on house arrest while awaiting trial. The consequences can be very serious, including being put in jail or charged with a crime. The Chicago Reader and The Triibe looked into this issue.

Cook County Public Defender Sharone Mitchell was quoted in the story as follows:

“We know that we’ve seen alerts when people are actually sitting at their home, abiding by the condition of their release,” Mitchell said. “We know that in some instances people are being thrown back into jail without a hearing; it’s just the notification of a violation that causes a person to be detained.”

Mitchell emphasized that those on EM have only been accused of a crime, and could have their case dismissed or be found not guilty at trial. “There are real consequences to both pretrial incarceration through jail, and pretrial incarceration through electronic monitoring,” he said. “And we know that both of those outcomes disrupt people’s jobs, their education, and their family obligations.”

Mitchell added that the impacts on individuals ripple out into communities when EM is concentrated in certain neighborhoods—as is the case in Chicago.

“So when you are talking about a large amount of people who live in the same neighborhoods, and you have that impact over and over and over again, now we’re really talking about the destruction of communities,” Mitchell said. “Now we’re talking about that cycle of incarceration and violence.”

You can read the full story here or in the link below.