By Steven Hughes  North Cook News

Matt Podgorski, a Republican candidate for Cook County Board of Commissioners, recently took to Facebook to rail against the state's criminal justice system.

"Our judicial and prosecutorial system is broken. And it’s going to get worse on Jan 1," Podgorski posted. "Vote for common sense, to push back against this madness. If our government can’t protect us from these predators, what good are they?"

Many Republicans and multiple state's attorneys have been vocal in their opposition to the Safety, Accountability, Fairness and Equity-Today Act, a sweeping criminal justice reform package signed into law by Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year, Chicago City Wire reported. Many critics of the bill have spoken out against a provision that will eliminate cash bail in the state, effective Jan. 1.

One provision of the SAFE-T Act that took effect in January of this year allows criminal defendants who are awaiting trial on home confinement to move freely, without electronic monitoring, two days a week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The defendants are supposed to use that time to look for employment, attend school, undergo treatment for a drug addiction or mental illness, or grocery shop.

However, in the first three months of 2022, around two dozen people were arrested in Cook County during their "essential movement" days. Democratic Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has called for an end to the "essential movement" provision, stating, “At a bare minimum, they should say, ‘If you’re charged with a violent offense, and you’re given home monitoring, you don’t get to wander around free for two days a week.”

The State Journal-Register reported that an Illinois judge could still decide if a person is a “risk of endangerment” for the community and needs to stay in prison.

Defendants who are on electronic monitoring are subject to compliance checks on their homes, and in the first five months of this year, police found contraband at 60 of the 69 homes that had been checked, NBC 5 reported. Police recovered a total of 84 firearms from 39 of the homes.

Sgt. Carl Price pointed to the essential movement days as contributing to the problem. 

"They have access to go places that they probably couldn't go before the essential movement, to obtain things that they shouldn't have," Price said.

Dart has long been critical of electronic monitoring, saying that people are placed on electronic monitoring who shouldn't be. He has also said that the only reason officers aren't performing more compliance checks is because they don't have enough manpower. "I have zero doubt that if we had double the amount of people on the street, that we'd be finding double the amount of guns," Dart said.

Podgorski is the Republican candidate seeking to represent the 9th District in Cook County's Board of Commissioners, according to Ballotpedia. He will face Democrat Maggie Trevor in November's general election.

Seventeen commissioners are elected to serve four-year terms on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, which is currently headed by Democratic Board President Toni Preckwinkle. Each Commissioner represents approximately 300,000 residents.