Tom Dart, in an about-face, says he’ll comply with judge’s order banning furloughs for defendants on home confinement

The sheriff initially defied Judge Edward Maloney’s order, saying a new law requires the furloughs, but changed his mind after the Sun-Times posted a story Friday about the case.

SHARE Tom Dart, in an about-face, says he’ll comply with judge’s order banning furloughs for defendants on home confinement
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Anthony Vazquez / Sun-Times

Cook County Judge Edward Maloney signed a court order last month saying a man awaiting trial on drug and gun charges couldn’t leave his home for twice-a-week furloughs even though those are required by a new criminal justice reform law.

At first, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart opposed Maloney’s order.

His office said Dart was required to follow a controversial provision of the Illinois SAFE-T Act, which took effect Jan. 1 and mandates furloughs for the defendant, Royal Brown, and others. That was even though Dart said he didn’t support the change in the law.

So, when Brown posted $8,000 bail and was freed from the Cook County Jail last month and placed on home confinement with electronic monitoring, Dart initially defied the judge’s order: Brown got the twice-weekly furlough days.

On Friday night, though, after the Chicago Sun-Times posted a story online about the case, saying Dart was allowing Brown to have his furloughs despite the judge’s order, the sheriff’s office reversed course.

“The sheriff’s office will comply with court orders entered when the judge determines a defendant should not be granted free movement,” a spokesman for Dart said in a written statement.

“Since this conflict first arose, we have been continuing to evaluate how to navigate instances where court orders rooted in public safety appear to conflict with the requirements of the law,” the spokesman said.

Dart opposes the SAFE-T Act’s requirement that defendants on home confinement get furloughs because he isn’t allowed to actively track their whereabouts during that time.

Things had come to a head following Brown’s April 22 release from jail after posting bail.

Maloney allowed Brown to go free on bail while awaiting trial but put him on electronic monitoring with the condition that he couldn’t leave his home —and couldn’t get the two furlough days a week the new law requires.

A lawyer for Dart’s office had previously told Maloney that the sheriff objected to the judge’s no-furlough order for Brown.

Cook County Judge Edward M. Maloney.

Cook County Judge Edward M. Maloney.

Injustice Watch

The SAFE-T Act says that people who have been charged with a crime and who are free on bail and on home confinement until trial must get the two furlough days a week so they can look for work, go grocery shopping and handle other personal business without being under active monitoring.

Critics have said Cook County judges already were allowing people on home confinement to be given time during which they could leave their homes for those kinds of things.

The sheriff’s office said it doesn’t actively monitor a person’s whereabouts on electronic monitoring on furlough days. But those crime suspects still have their GPS bracelets turned on, and sheriff’s officials can go back later to see where they’ve been.

Royal Brown.

Royal Brown.

Chicago Police Department

On March 22, Brown, 21, was charged with selling crack cocaine. He was freed from jail on an individual recognizance bond, known as an “I-bond,” which didn’t require him to post bail.

Three days later, he was arrested again, this time on a charge of illegal gun possession. Maloney then ordered a $75,000 deposit bond, known as a “D-bond,” citing Brown’s violation of the conditions of his bail in the drug case. The judge also ordered a $5,000 deposit bond in the gun case.

Deposit bonds require a defendant to post 10% of the total amount of bail in order to be released from jail.

According to court records, Brown’s bail was posted by the Chicago Community Bond Fund, which advocates for an end to pretrial detention.

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