18-time felon tells authorities his electronic monitoring bracelet got cut by CTA train tracks

An 18-time felon who failed to return home after being given permission to leave the house for eight hours while on electronic monitoring allegedly had a unique response when authorities tracked him down in Chicago and asked why his ankle monitor had been badly cut: He allegedly claimed that it became entangled on CTA train tracks.

And, because Illinois’ criminal justice reform bill known as the SAFE-T Act requires “EM” participants to be AWOL for 48 consecutive hours before it becomes a crime, Woodrow Rowe, 58, won’t be charged with escape.

He is, however, charged with felony damage to government property for allegedly giving his $800 ankle monitor the slice-n-dice treatment.

Woodrow Rowe | CPD; File

Rowe, who has been arrested by Chicago police 26 times since 2014 and four times this year, was on electronic monitoring for pending retail theft and narcotics matters, prosecutor Eugene Goroshko said. A judge permitted him to stay in a group home while on monitoring.

But the agency called the sheriff’s office on September 12 and said it was withdrawing permission for Rowe to stay there after he was given permission to leave the property from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and didn’t return.

Sheriff’s workers tracked Rowe’s ankle monitor and received a “strap tamper alert” from the device, Gorsohko said.

When authorities found him near the Division Blue Line station, they also allegedly found cuts on his ankle monitor strap that exposed its metal interior.

Ware told the sheriff’s investigators that his ankle strap got caught on the CTA tracks, Goroshko alleged. 

Public defender Patrick Shine went to bat for Ware, arguing there’s “no proof either way” of how Ware’s ankle monitor was damaged.

Goroshko said Ware’s 18 felony convictions include 15 for retail theft, a 2020 conviction for aggravated battery of a merchant, a 2016 escape from electronic monitoring, and a 2001 stolen motor vehicle charge.

Judge Maryam Ahamad ordered Ware held without bail for violating the terms of his release in the pending matters. She also ordered him to pay a $1,500 bail deposit to be released on the criminal damage charge.

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