(CNN) — The Milwaukee County prosecutor, whose office sought a low bail that led to the release of the man accused of running over attendees of a Christmas parade in a nearby suburb, has long been an advocate for efforts to reduce mass incarceration. by using the discretion granted to prosecutors.
Darrell E. Brooks, 39, of Milwaukee, is now facing murder charges after authorities say kill six people and injure more than 60 as you ram the Waukesha Christmas Parade this Sunday. Brooks was in bail on two separate charges of violence, including one in which he is accused of having used a car to run over a woman less than three weeks earlier.
The Milwaukee Attorney General’s Office John Chisholm issued a statement Monday morning, saying that your office was wrong in requesting a $ 1,000 bond in the most recent case of violent allegations against Brooks. He posted bail about a week after being charged and was released from custody.
“The State’s bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks,” according to the statement. “The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s approach to matters involving violent crimes, nor was it consistent with the defendant’s risk assessment prior to setting bail.”
The statement from Chisholm’s office said they were “conducting an internal review of the decision behind the recent bail recommendation.”
State law sets out factors that judges must take into account when setting bail amounts, including whether someone is likely to return to court and is likely to harm other people, Julie Rendelman said, a former homicide prosecutor who is now a defense attorney. One of the charges Brooks faced earlier this month was for failing to appear in court, and another was for an accusation of violence.
“It looks like they made a mistake,” Rendelman said. “They failed, it really is that simple. I don’t think I’m talking about bail reform.”
Prosecutors across the country have faced a logistical challenge brought on by the pandemic this year, balancing the need to move cases through the system with the exposure risks of defendants going to court and prison.
Officials have sought ways to keep the accused out of the system while respecting the serious nature of the charges against the accused; in some jurisdictions this has led to requesting bail or bail amounts lower than normal to keep defendants out of jail. In some cases, those requests coincide with prosecutors’ offices, whose approach to defendants is more lenient than prosecutors have been for decades. It’s unclear what role that may have played in this case.
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Chisholm took office in 2007 after having worked for years as a prosecutor and having held a position of responsibility under his predecessor, E. Michael McCann, who held that position for 38 years. McCann endorsed Chisholm as a successor in 2006. Chisholm ran unopposed in 2020.
In a 2015 interview with Jeffrey Toobin of The New Yorker, A current CNN legal analyst, Chisholm said that 10% of the 15% of the cases prosecutors handle were for homicide and weapons offenses. The rest were for less serious crimes, the difference between “people who scare us” and “people who irritate us,” he said.
“The most important thing we can do with these people is to disable them, so they can’t do any more harm,” he told Toobin.
Part of his focus was on reducing the number of people Milwaukee County sent to state prison for low-level drug offenses, but attempts to reduce racial disparities in prosecution and sentencing have been complicated by the conformation Racial crime victims and offenders, Chisholm said.
“We no longer send low-level drug offenders to state prison, but we continue to send violent offenders, and that makes the numbers black americans keep increasing“Chisholm told Toobin.” If we get it right, the people who are going to prison are the ones who should go to prison. People who go to prison are dangerous. “
After winning the election in 2006, Chisholm told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel the following year that it was “guaranteed” that someone his office let out of prison would end up killing someone.
“Will there be an individual who does not go to prison, or who puts in a treatment program, who is going to go out and kill someone?” Chisholm told the Journal Sentinel. “Definitely. It’s guaranteed. It is guaranteed to happen. That does not invalidate the general approach. “
Chishom’s office did not respond to requests for comment from CNN.
Cash bail cannot be attributed to increased violence
The term “bail reform” has been used loosely to describe any policy that involves a lower threshold for keeping accused offenders in jail before they are tried by a judge or jury, or before they are tried. find guilty or prosecutors drop the charges.
It’s not clear that reform efforts are to blame in this case: Chisholm’s earlier statements distinguish between those accused of violence and those charged with lesser crimes. Brooks has not committed acts of violence while on bail for a non-violent crime.
Chisholm was first elected before two cases of police use of force sparked protests across the country and led to so-called progressive candidates running in local prosecutorial elections. The policies favored by progressive prosecutors are sometimes a sticking point for law enforcement officials, who call them too soft on crime.
In Chicago during the summer, the city police superintendent He opposed for a federal judge to release a defendant for supplying the weapon used to kill a Chicago police officer.
“It’s a scandal,” said Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown. “When I learned this afternoon that a federal judge had released the man who illegally purchased and later supplied the weapon used to end the life of agent Ella French, I could not believe it”.
The reform question It comes up whenever someone charged with a high-profile violent crime also has a record in the criminal justice system, like Brooks. The significant increase in homicides in the United States in 2020, and the continuation of that trend in some major cities, has sparked further debate.
“Cash bail cannot be attributed to the rise in violent crime because, on the one hand, cash bail mainly affects low-level non-violent offenders,” dijo Jody Armour, Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, to CNN during the summer.
“A judge has to determine in advance that the person is safe to rejoin society before he can get a cash bond,” he added.
Chisholm said his office should focus on keeping violent people in the system and non-violent people out; Brooks was charged with violence and still the prosecutor asked for a low bail. It is unclear why the state sought a low bond or why the judge granted the request.
In that case, from the beginning of November, Brooks is accused of hitting a woman with his car while walking through a gas station parking lot, leaving tire tracks on the left leg of his pants. He was charged with recklessly endangering security, evading bail, assaulting a police officer, obstructing an officer and disturbing the public order, according to a statement from the district attorney’s office.
His charge of evading bail stemmed from an incident in July 2020. Brooks had posted bail for a weapons charge earlier this year in February, according to the statement.
Disagreement on Bond Reform Relationship to Crimes
Rendelman said prosecutors often have an accordion they use to determine their bail requests, and said it was unlikely that any bail request guide would suggest that it was appropriate to request $ 1,000 given the allegations of both violence and violence. Failure to appear in court.
“This case seems different because it has a long history, it has indications that he is not going to go back to court, and in the case that is being brought against him, the accusations are extremely violent,” he said.
During a hearing in Congress In late June, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, suggested that reforms eliminating cash bonds could be partially to blame for the increase in violence in the summer. Graham asked the director of the FBI, Christopher Wray, if he believed that “one of the reasons for the increase in crime is that certain jurisdictions have basically eliminated bail.”
Prosecutors have a wide margin of maneuver to request high or low bail for defendants who are going to be tried, although it is usually the judge who decides. Prosecutors make those decisions at the local level as well: Prosecutors in one county may not prosecute a low-level drug offense while prosecutors in two more distant counties ask for years in jail for the same charge.
It’s unclear if the bond reform efforts are related with the rise in violent crime, or to what extent. There is wide disagreement between law enforcement and academia over their relationship.
Studies on certain jurisdictions, such as the county that encompasses Chicago, disagree on whether the cash bond can be linked to any increase in crime. Two studies from the University of Utah and Loyola University Chicago officials reached opposite conclusions about whether bail reform in Cook County led to an increase in crime in the county. These Cook County studies are a clear example of how researchers disagree on methodology when it comes to studying the effects of bail reform and the rise in crime.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism