We need more transparency on electronic monitoring and Cook County Circuit Court business – Chicago Tribune

The Civic Federation echoes the points made by the University of Chicago Crime Lab in a recent op-ed (“Is electronic monitoring contributor to gun violence?” May 10) about electronic monitoring. The analysis by the Crime Lab finds that electronic monitoring is likely not driving up violent crime in Chicago — but an equally important takeaway is the lack of data available from city and county agencies needed to answer critical questions about the role electronic monitoring plays in public safety .

As Chicago experiences an increase in violent crime, we need city and county officials to coordinate and strategize rather than assign blame. We also need these officials to operate from one set of facts and data. The incompatible data tracking systems used by various criminal justice system entities seem to make it more difficult to answer basic questions such as the number of pretrial rearrests among criminal defendants on electronic monitoring or home confinement programs.

While not entirely comprehensive, there is some data. The Cook County sheriff posts daily jail population and electronic monitoring numbers online. The chief judge posts quarterly pretrial data dashboards about bond court hearings and outcomes and this year started posting data on the number of people on home confinement by charge. However, that public data goes only so far and does not answer the question of how electronic monitoring affects public safety.

We also need better transparency in general from the Cook County Circuit Court. Because courts in Illinois are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, the Cook County Circuit Court has full discretion over what information it releases. This must change. Courts in Illinois ought to be subject to the same FOIA requirements as all other government entities. This would bring Illinois in line with states across the US

A comprehensive study of the electronic monitoring programs in Cook County could shine badly needed light on how these programs operate and what improvements could be made. The Cook County Justice Advisory Council consulted with Chicago Appleseed Center for Fair Courts to conduct a study on the current electronic monitoring programs in Cook County. The report has been drafted for months but still has not been released. At the very least, Cook County should release the study for the benefit of all Cook County stakeholders.

— Laurence Msall, president, Civic Federation, Chicago

Here is something I wish people would strongly consider in the face of the upcoming midterms. There are policy issues, of which I have my preferences but can pretty much always see and even argue the opposing points of view. But then there’s the bigger question: Are you in favor of radically changing the system of government that has kept us stable and free for our entire lives?

I’m a gambler, but I’d never roll the dice on that one. Whether it was Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan, the leaders at least colored within the lines. Even Richard Nixon essentially said, “You got me,” and followed protocol.

How does anybody not think the party that worries over the safety of the country in private, and does a 180-degree about-face in public one week later, does not embody too high a price? The party that keeps pretending the election wasn’t legitimate, climate change isn’t real, it’s OK to suppress voters? The party that has no problem with the prosecution of the Capitol riot foot soldiers but seeks to completely eliminate justice for the ringleaders?

I don’t get how anybody can squint past the existential danger of the Republican Party for the sake of lower taxes, border security or anything else.

— Art Collins, Aurora

While the Biden administration’s efforts to assist Ukrainian military forces is admirable, it isn’t helping the Ukrainian people. Since this is a conflict the Ukrainians can’t win, it would seem more helpful to the average Ukrainian citizen if peace could somehow obtained through a negotiated settlement.

As long as we keep supplying weapons and money, the war will continue and unfortunately probably for a very long time. Therefore, I would urge our leaders to do everything they can through diplomacy to bring about a peaceful solution that, while not making either party happy, will end the bloodshed.

— Dan Schuchardt, Glen Ellyn

Ken Griffith is definitely trying to buy the governor’s office. He is funding Richard Irvin’s nasty advertisements and untruths to further his position in the state. Make no mistake, if Irvin is successful “big money” will definitely get in the way of any good being done by Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

— Michele (Mickey) Herbin, Northbrook

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