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Get rid of electronic monitoring for people freed on bail

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart / Sun-Times files

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart misses the mark with his claim that recent bail reforms endanger the public by releasing people on electronic monitoring while they await trial for carrying — but not using — guns. The figures he provide in the letter show that bail reform is working: use of cash bond is decreasing, amount of bond charged has fallen, and judges are following recommendations of Pretrial division.

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Overall since September thousands of people have won their constitutional right of release from jail impending adjudication — a reversal of the (unconstitutional) mass incarceration model. Locking people up does not guarantee public safety. In fact, mass incarceration has actually ignored public safety — particularly the safety of vulnerable, over-policed communities and for whom racialized mass imprisonment has delivered fear, disruption, punishment and deprivation of liberty

Moreover, Dart overlooks the fact that electronic monitoring is the most punitive form of pretrial release, typically accompanied by house arrest (incarceration in your own home). An individual must have permission from a supervisor or an officer of the court to even leave their house. In fact, the Pretrial Justice Institute, one of the national champions of bail reform, argues against the use of electronic monitoring for people awaiting adjudication. If the court grants a person release to the community, there should be no electronic shackle attached to their leg. Instead of critiquing the decisions of judges in bond court, the sheriff should focus on how to reinvest taxpayer dollars to provide vulnerable black and brown communities with opportunities for employment and education.

James Kilgore, research scholar,

Center for African Studies,

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Go to the polls

I can feel it already. That ebbing away of anger and frustration that follows a tragedy like the latest one in Parkland, Florida. And with it the will to change the way gun rights are legislated.

It’s like a New Year’s resolution: Make a plan; go at it full bore; give it up when it seems too hard and results don’t come quick enough.

But our righteous anger is wasted in screaming at the NRA, politicians and gun owners. A powerful lobby that has somehow convinced their members that the government is out to get their guns is not going to become rational anytime soon. But that’s OK. They can have their guns and their weird convictions that living full-time as a paranoid potential victim is the height of patriotism, though it doesn’t sound like much of a right to me. Though it requires patience and is not instantly gratifying this energy needs to be directed at getting out the vote.

As for myself I know one thing: I’m going to the polls in November. And though I don’t want to oversimplify things ( there is an aggressive push by the GOP to pass voting restrictions — which is another reason to exercise our voter rights ) or suggest being a one-issue voter, if the people we elect are not doing right by us it is not just our right but our duty to get rid of them.

School shootings will continue. But if the number of dead children continues to climb after November it’s only because we apparently had better things to do than get to the polls.

It’s time to start taking as much interest in politics and exercising our rights as much as the NRA does.

Jim Koppensteine, Wheeling

Shoddy reporting

S.E. Cupp correctly stated that the 10-year-ban did not measurably reduce gun violence, but she totally left out it reduced MASS shootings [“Start small, be realistic on gun regulation,” Thursday]! Exactly what it was intended to do. Shoddy reporting.

Roberta Breeden, Glen Ellyn

Ignore negative political ads

The Illinois primary election is less than one month away (March 20), and we are being bombarded by political ads. Many of these ads are negative ads. I would like to urge all Illinois voters to ignore negative political ads, including emails and postings on social media. Negative political ads frequently contain half-truths, which can be more deceptive than an actual lie. Negative political ads sometimes even contain statements that are completely untrue.

If a business ran an ad that made a false accusation against their competitor, they would be sued and have to pay hefty damages. However, there is no similar penalty for falsehoods in political ads. Political ads are free to say anything with no consequences.

Citizens claim to dislike negative political ads, but politicians know that negative ads work. Wouldn’t it be nice to change that?

Steven Stine, Mundelein