Plan to let Preckwinkle handle inmate release program advances
By Brian slodysko Staff Reporter January 15, 2014 5:36PM
Cook County Jail | Sun-Times files
Updated: January 15, 2014 7:35PM
The Cook County board voted Wednesday to authorize a plan that could eventually allow President Toni Preckwinkle to take control of a nonviolent inmate release program currently overseen by Sheriff Tom Dart.
The measure – which has Dart’s blessing – passed on a verbal vote, with Commissioner John Fritchey voting no.
Under a federal court order aimed at controlling the Cook County jail’s population, Dart can sidestep judges and release inmates accused of minor crimes to electronic monitoring while they await trial.
But Preckwinkle said she would like to release more nonviolent inmates on electronic monitoring.
“I think the maximum number of people on electronic monitoring at the request of the sheriff has been around 250,” Preckwinkle told reporters after the board meeting Wednesday. “According to the federal court ruling, up to 1,500 folks awaiting trial could be on electronic monitoring at the sheriff’s request.”
“If the program is transferred toward the president’s office we’ll move toward 1,500, rather than 250,” Preckwinkle added.
Before she can take over the program, the federal court monitoring jail conditions must sign off on the plan.