Critics Blame Wisconsin Parade Tragedy on Bail Reform

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Darrell E. Brooks, the man who police say was driving the SUV that plowed into a recent holiday parade, killing five and injuring at least 48 people, had been out on $1,000 cash bail after intentionally running over a woman he knew earlier in November, 2021, reports the New York Times. Prosecutors in Milwaukee County said they had erred in recommending the inappropriately low bail amount and the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office said that an investigation was underway into how that decision was made, adding that the bail amount was not “consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail.”

On the day that Brooks drove into the parade, police were already looking for him after receiving a report of a domestic dispute involving a knife. Brooks has racked up arrests in the Milwaukee area for resisting or obstructing an officer, bail jumping, recklessly endangering safety, disorderly conduct and battery, among other charges. According to the Maclver Institute, JusticePoint, a non-profit dedicated to finding “alternatives to incarceration” that is instrumental in the end cash bail movement in Wisconsin, bears the brunt of the responsibility for both Brooks’ irresponsible release and resultant violence. Their 2019 report about JusticePoint’s critical failures in monitoring criminals, and Milwaukee County’s unrelenting efforts to keep criminals out of jail, highlighted low cash bonds for serious crimes, poor oversight, and dismal outcomes. Since 2019, bail amounts have decreased further and conditions of release have become so lax that people charged with more serious crimes even while under JusticePoint supervision have been returned back to the nonprofit after posting bail.

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