Where Coronavirus Is Surging—And Electronic Surveillance, Too

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By Eli Hager

Coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, criminal justice and immigration.

For most of 2020, Chris, a father of three in Chicago, couldn’t leave his apartment: not to go for a walk, not to run errands, and not to take his son to the doctor when he broke his arm. And not because of quarantine. If Chris even stepped outside his front door without getting permission from authorities—a process that could take weeks—then the electronic monitor strapped to his ankle would notify law enforcement, possibly landing him in jail.

One day in August, Chris’s mother was out with his children when another relative suffered a health emergency, he says, forcing her to go to the hospital. She called Chris saying he had to come pick the kids up. “I’m a father,” he said of his decision to go get them, violating the terms of his house arrest.

The next night, squad cars pulled up to Chris’s home. He was handcuffed and taken to jail. Unable to afford bail, he has been locked up ever since, awaiting trial for gun possession, a nonviolent offense. Chris, who is Black, did not want his last name used …

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