Sheriff Tom Dart is wrong on electronic monitoring

The vast majority of people have followed the rules and should not be punished for the mistakes of a few.

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wants end furlough days for those on electronic monitoring.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart wants to end furlough days for those on electronic monitoring.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

My children and I spent five months on electronic monitoring. While I was the one with a shackle attached to my ankle, the extreme rules of the Cook County sheriff’s electronic monitoring program impacted my entire family.

That’s why I worked with the Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice to ensure the Pretrial Fairness Act included protections for people on electronic monitoring, who are now given two days a week to leave the home to complete the basic tasks we all must do to survive.

I was disturbed to read that Sheriff Tom Dart now wants to roll those protections back because an extremely small number of people may have misused that time.

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Before the Pretrial Fairness Act, people like myself were unable to go to the grocery store or the laundromat, or even go to court. I had to move in with family, who were forced to pick up my load because electronic monitoring prevented me from doing things I was normally responsible for as a single mother.

Electronic monitoring strained all of our relationships. My daughter was in high school, but I wasn’t able to see her in school plays, let alone take her to school. If my son wanted to play outside, I couldn’t leave our front steps. I had to get someone else to stand outside with him so he could learn to ride his bike and rollerblade, or even just play with kids down the street.

I ultimately took a plea deal, not because I didn’t think I could beat my case but because electronic monitoring was making life so difficult for me and my family.

The vast majority of people have used their essential movement successfully. If we expect criminal justice reforms to have a 100% success rate, we will never end mass incarceration. Rolling back these reforms would be a mistake.

Lavette Mayes, Markham, member of Illinois Network for Pretrial Justice

Private school tax credits should continue in Illinois

In a response to the story on closed Chicago Public Schools buildings, Diane Horwitz criticizes the Invest in Kids program and scrutinizes The Field School, a West Side school I helped found.

Horwitz argues that Invest in Kids diverts resources away from public schools toward private schools, which is inaccurate. The tax credits galvanize new philanthropy toward scholarships for low-income students at whatever schools their parents choose; no public school dollars have been “diverted.” And Invest in Kids was introduced in conjunction with a separate expansion of public school funding.

Invest in Kids helps more families pick a strong school while saving the state money. The loss in tax revenue for each scholarship is less than the cost for CPS and other Illinois districts to educate a child. And CPS teachers themselves recognize the value of options: Chicago has one of the highest rates in the country of public school teachers who choose to send their own children to private schools.

More than half of the seats at The Field School are reserved for children from low-income homes. Recently, we received our end-of-year test results: 79% of our students are at or above grade level in reading and math. This is more than double the rate of Illinois public schools, which have a lower percentage of students in poverty.

In addition to growing as readers and mathematicians, Field School students are doing other things that we as a community find worthwhile: studying nature, performing plays, singing gospel music and yes, reading the Bible (although families do not need to be Christian to enroll). Schools with religious affiliation, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim, have long enriched American life.

On one point I heartily agree with Horwitz: Private schools should work to offer more special education services. There is an effort among Illinois private schools to find ways to make this more feasible.

For this and other reasons, Invest in Kids should be extended.

Jeremy Mann, head of school, The Field School

Everyone should call 911 if they see trouble

The comments by Anthony Driver in last Wednesday’s edition should not go unchallenged. It should never matter what the race, gender or community status of any shooting victim is. Whoever hears gunshots, looks out their window and observes someone bleeding should immediately call 911. There is nothing difficult about that conversation at all.

Driver also is quoted as saying he has not “been right” since attending the funeral of Chicago Police Officer Aréanah Preston. There is no doubt that Preston was a hero in every sense of the word, as was Ella French, Andres Vasquez Lasso and other slain officers. No one should feel right about any of it.

As to his question about the delayed police response, one reason could be found in another story about some academic-political consortium finding things for beat officers to do other than the life-saving functions they dismiss as “answering 911 calls and patrolling.”

Driver is the first public official to confirm that no one called 911 after Preston was shot, and it is undeniably true this has happened before. When it does, the beat officers have usually been close enough to hear the shooting, call it in, respond and save the victim. Maybe the ivory tower ideas prevented it in this case.

Either way, our new mayor and his team need to consider safety for every Chicagoan first, last and always in selecting a new superintendent.

David L. Milligan, Portage Park

Calling out Cardinal Cupich

Thank you to the Sun-Times for your firm and direct response to Cardinal Blase Cupich’s defensive posture in reviewing the report from Attorney General Kwame Raoul and his team.

Our cardinal showed total lack of empathy and deflected the issue like a Chicago politician Is he teaching the ways of Jesus or getting ready for a political campaign?

Michael Cronin, Riverside

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