(CBS) — More criminal defendants than ever before in Cook County are being placed on electronic home monitoring. WBBM’s Regine Schlesinger reports the county sheriff says it’s a mixed blessing.

The sheriff’s office says last year judges in Cook County ordered 70 percent more defendants to stay at home and wear ankle bracelets than the year before.

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Sheriff Tom Dart says that is easing overcrowding at the jail, but presents other challenges.

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“We’ve had to redirect resources, but if you think about it, we’ve had to change a little bit of our thinking from a jail that is purely custodial to a jail that is part custodial, part out on the street,” he said.

And it doesn’t do much about the problem of warehousing the mentally ill at the jail since many of them are homeless.

“We obviously can’t put someone out on electronic monitoring to like a street corner, we have to have a home for them,” Dart said.

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For a handful of defendants deemed the most dangerous on electronic monitoring, sheriff’s deputies make three unannounced visits a day to their homes.