Cook County Sheriff Promotes Elimination of ‘Essential Movement’ for Suspects on Electronic Monitoring

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

At least two people per week are rearrested for criminal activity during the past 16 months while on their “essential movement” days, 23 percent for gun related offenses

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has been actively advocating for the elimination of 'essential movement' for suspects on electronic monitoring. Dart's efforts to revoke the reform that allows criminal defendants on home detention to have limited freedom of movement have gained attention and sparked debates surrounding public safety and criminal justice reform.

Under the current system, enacted as part of the 2021 Illinois Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today (SAFE-T) Act, individuals on electronic monitoring are granted permission to leave their homes for specific reasons, such as medical appointments, job interviews, and essential errands during two 8 hour periods weekly without continuous supervision. However, Sheriff Dart argues that this policy poses potential risks and compromises public safety. He points to alarming statistics, including 129 rearrests of people on "essential movement," as evidence that stricter measures are needed.

Sheriff Dart's proposal aligns with his broader efforts to address rising crime rates in Cook County. Dart believes that by eliminating 'essential movement' and imposing stricter restrictions, such as those recently outlined for individuals living in apartment buildings, the initiative will contribute to a decline in carjackings, gun violence and overall criminal activity.

“I’m wildly opposed to this, and I’m going to try and do everything I can to stop it,” Dart said, adding that many of the other re-arrests also involved violence, including armed robbery, kidnapping, carjacking and pointing a gun at an off-duty Chicago police officer.

However, critics argue that focusing solely on limiting movement may not effectively address the root causes of crime. They suggest that comprehensive approaches, including investments in community resources, education, and job opportunities, are necessary to combat criminal behavior effectively.

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