The sweeping criminal justice reform package approved by Illinois politicians last year made many changes to the state’s court and law enforcement systems. The bill, among other things, allows those on electronic monitoring to leave their homes two days a week for “essential” needs such as grocery shopping.
That provision took effect on January 1. By March 30, the Sun-Times found, about 1% of people on electronic monitoring had been arrested and two had been shot to death while they were supposed to be engaged in essential activities.
Then there’s Theodis Thomas, a four-time convicted felon who was on electronic monitoring for a Class X armed habitual criminal case and for escaping from electronic monitoring while awaiting trial on that charge.
On one of his free travel days last month, Thomas allegedly went to Wisconsin, only to be arrested and charged with a collection of felonies in suburban Milwaukee.
Last week, authorities returned Thomas to Cook County and charged him with escape from electronic monitoring again.
Thomas went to court for the pending cases on April 26 and, while on “essential” movement, apparently travelled to Wisconsin the same day. As you might guess, people who are on electronic monitoring aren’t supposed to leave the state.
That’s when things got sticky.
Cops in Brookfield, Wisconsin, arrested Thomas while he was there. According to Waukesha County court records, they charged him with felony attempted theft, attempting to disarm a peace officer, and misappropriating ID to obtain money.
The judge ordered him not to leave Wisconsin. Cook County authorities eventually figured out what was going on and investigators arrested Thomas for escape when he appeared in court for his Wisconsin case on May 4. They returned him to Cook County last week.
Assistant State’s Attorney Danny Hanichak said Thomas was convicted of a felony gun charge in 2014, aggravated robbery and attempted armed robbery in 2015, and possessing fraudulent ID in 2020.
Standing before Judge Barbara Dawkins last week, Thomas was quick to point out that he never removed his ankle monitor.
“I still have it on and everything,” he said. “I never messed with or nothing like that.”
His public defender reiterated that fact and reminded Dawkins that Thomas “hasn’t missed any court dates” in his pending cases.
“I will note that the defendant has his EM bracelet on, has not missed any court dates,” Dawkins assured Thomas and his attorney. “Notwithstanding that, this defendant is alleged to have left the state without permission while on bond and electronic monitoring for escape and an armed habitual criminal case and picked up another criminal case while in the state of Wisconsin [and] was told not to leave Wisconsin. Notwithstanding the fact that he was not supposed to leave Illinois.”
She set Thomas’ bail at $700,000 on the new escape charge. He is also being held without bail on the armed habitual criminal case and his previous escape charge, according to sheriff’s office records.