The number of individuals in custody at the Cook County Jail has dipped to 7,999, thanks in part to high numbers of accused offenders being sent home on electronic monitoring, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.
That is the first time the Cook County Jail’s daily population has dropped below 8,000 in years. The head count at the jail reached highs of nearly 11,000 under previous administrations. As of today, 2,207 individuals in custody are home on electronic monitoring. Electronic monitoring, for those individuals in custody who qualify, represents a far more cost-effective option for Cook County taxpayers.
Sheriff Dart has undertaken several legislative and administrative initiatives to get low-level, non-violent offenders out of the jail, which is designed to house individuals in custody who represent a threat to Cook County residents, as they await trial. Last year, the legislature passed the Sheriff’s “Rocket Docket” bill which puts a 30-day limit on non-violent alleged shop-lifters or trespassers. This year, Rocket Docket II passed, expanding that program to low-level drug offenses and non-DUI traffic offenses. The Sheriff’s office confers regularly with prosecutors and public defenders to weed out cases of people who don’t need to be in jail. This year, the Sheriff has introduced a bill that would add this office to the parties, along with prosecutor, defense counsel and judge, that can ask for a reduction in bail for low-level offenders.