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The Bracelet Cutters: 25 Violent Or Gun Offenders Are On The Loose From Electronic Monitoring In Cook County

CBS (CHICAGO) – More than 80 people have disappeared while on Cook County's electronic monitoring program since last September.

2 Investigators have found a total of 25, or 29 percent of the missing, had been arrested for violent or gun offenses, a fact that concerns Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

"Electronic monitoring was never developed for violent offenders," Dart says. "This is something that if it isn't fixed soon is going to be a big problem.

The use of electronic monitoring, or house arrest, was typically limited to non-violent offenders.  But that changed last year after Cook County Chief Judge Tim Evans' mandate limiting the use of cash bonds.

Compared to a year ago, people on electronic monitoring who were charged with violent or weapons-related crimes have spiked. Case in point: Those charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon has jumped 158 percent, according to data from Dart's office.

Ricky Larkin, 25, is not a gun offender, but he was among those who disappeared.

He was arrested last October for unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle. A week later he was released on electronic monitoring, pending his trial.

Larkin cut off his ankle bracelet and disappeared Jan. 12. He was re-arrested later that month after allegedly trying to run down a Harvey police officer with the officer's squad car, according to interviews and records.

"He shouldn't have been allowed on the streets," says Harvey Police Chief Gregory Thomas.

Through a spokesman, Judge Evans declined an interview request.

Amy Campanelli, the Cook County Public Defender, tells 2 Investigator Brad Edwards that Evans' bond reforms are working. "Prior to Judge Evans' edict we were doing it wrong. We were detaining everyone.

Dart says he's mulling changes to the electronic monitoring program, which his office oversees, perhaps even refusing to outfit people who've been arrested for violent crimes with an ankle bracelet. Campanelli says that would be a mistake.

"If he makes some sort of administrative decision that my clients don't deserve the bracelet when the judge says the opposite, then I will take Tom Dart to court," Campanelli vows.

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