- Johnny Page:After 23 years in prison,Johnny Page explains why being on EM meant he was "still in jail."
- Monica Cosby:After 20 years in prison, Monica Cosby describes why any residence a person lives with EM becomes like a "satellite prison."
- Edmund Buck:Edmund Bucks calls EM "paralyzing."
- Augie Torres:In a two video playlist, Augie Torres describes the challenges of looking for a job and of getting movement generally while on EM.
- Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart lays down the EM law. :Cook County shows their punitive colors when it comes to absconding from EM.
The Coalition to End Money Bond and the Chicago Community Bond Fund have produced a number of videos where many people, including Lavette Mayes and Timothy Williams speak about how pretrial EM affected their lives. You can also watch an animated version of the story of Lavette Mayes’s EM experience as a mother. Bond Fund also produced this video where James Kilgore of MediaJustice’s Challenging E-Carceration campaign presented some of the arguments against pretrial EM. This video comes from the Cook County Sheriff, Tom Dart, where he lays down the law about EM.
EM and the Law/Post-Prison
In 2019 the Illinois General Assembly passed the first-ever bill (HB 1115) to ban the use of electronic monitoring for people placed on mandatory supervised release after completing a prison term. Unfortunately, COVID closed the legislature before the bill could reach the Senate. However, the state legislature did pass HB 386, the first-ever state bill to mandate the Department of Corrections to collect key data on post-prison EM. The governor signed the bill into law in June 2019.
Cook County (which includes Chicago) has been one of the largest users of pretrial EM in the country. By September 2020 they had more than 3,000 people on EM as a condition of pretrial release. Sheriff Tom Dart has been involved in many debates and conflicts over EM, including the refusal to release some people on EM who had court orders to be set free. During COVID, Dart was refusing to release people when his department ran out of monitors. He made them stay in jail until more monitors became available.
In December 2020, the Cook County Board approved a $13 million increase to the contract amount for GPS electronic monitoring for people on pretrial release and probation at the request of Sheriff Tom Dart.
In 2020, the CCSO’s EM program averaged 3,200 people per day — at the end of January 2021, the program stood at 3,669 people (a 38% increase). At the same time, 32% of participants – 1,122 people – had been waiting on house arrest for their cases to be resolved for over one year without violating the terms of the program; about two-thirds of those people are awaiting for their day in court for non-forcible (or “non-violent”) felonies.
Cook County has been one of the hottest spots in the country for resistance to pretrial EM. Led by the Coalition to End Money Bond and one of its key members, the Chicago Community Bond Fund, activists in Cook County have consistently lifted up the voices of those impacted by electronic monitoring. They tracked the excessive usage of these devices and always refer to electronic monitoring as incarceration in your home. Their reports on pretrial justice, including Punishment Is Not A Service have consistently critiqued EM and advocated for freedom, not shackles.
Governor Pritzker signed the SAFE-T Act in February, which, among other things – along with abolishing money bond – creates a fairer pretrial system by ensuring that people on electronic monitoring are given time credit and movement allowances.