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Report: Overcrowding Correlates with Violence at Cook County Jail

A new report from the U.S. Justice Department shows when Cook County’s Jail is more crowded, violence is up. At the same time, a tool that could help with overcrowding is being used less.

Many who closely follow what’s going on at the Cook County Jail say one program in particular really helps cut down on overcrowding. That’s electronic monitoring, or house arrest, where inmates are released and given electronic bracelets.

Sheriff Tom Dart has control of who gets released on electronic supervision. He’s made drastic cuts to the program, saying releasing inmates is risky. Dart wants judges to take over electronic monitoring, saying they’re in a better position to decide who’s safe to let out. Either way, new figures from a jail watchdog group show the number of people released on electronic monitoring has gone from 1,500 at the beginning of 2006 to 370 last month.

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