Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MATTHEW HEN­DRICK­SON, STAFF RE­PORTER mhen­drick­son@sun­ | @MHen­drick­sonCST

All Cook County de­fen­dants placed on the sher­iff’s of­fice’s elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram will be tran­si­tioned into wear­ing GPS an­kle bracelets by Oc­to­ber, al­low­ing for better track­ing of those on house ar­rest.

GPS an­kle bracelets are used by a few of the 3,000 de­fen­dants cur­rently on the elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing pro­gram, but most have been fit­ted with an­kle bracelets that use ra­dio fre­quency to alert au­thor­i­ties if they dis­obey move­ment re­stric­tions set by a judge.

The ra­dio fre­quency units work with a con­trol box set up in de­fen­dants’ res­i­dences and send out an alert if the de­fen­dants stray too far from the box.

GPS uses cel­lu­lar tow­ers and satel­lites to mon­i­tor com­pli­ance and al­lows for better track­ing.

“The old bracelets only tell us where a per­son isn’t, the GPS ones also tell us where they are,” sher­iff ’s spokesman Matt Wal­berg said Tues­day.

The GPS track­ing mod­els also al­low for mes­sages — in­clud­ing vi­bra­tions, tones and voice calls — to be sent to a de­fen­dant through the bracelet, the sher­iff ’s of­fice said.

The two-way calls will al­low a sher­iff’s of­fice em­ployee to speak with de­fen­dants if they are out of com­pli­ance and will al­low them to talk back.

Wal­berg couldn’t say ex­actly how many GPS bracelets the sher­iff’s of­fice would be stock­ing.

The de­ci­sion to strictly use GPS an­kle bracelets comes as the sher­iff ’s of­fice tries to ad­dress an in­crease in court or­ders rec­om­mend­ing de­fen­dants be placed on elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing in­stead of be­ing sent to jail while they await trial.

The county’s sup­ply of elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing bracelets has been run­ning low — and at times ex­hausted dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

When the full sup­ply of elec­tronic bracelets were al­ready in use, some de­fen­dants or­dered onto elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing were forced to re­main at the jail even after post­ing bond as they waited for a bracelet to be­come avail­able.

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