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Most major bail reform advocates did not respond to Fox News’ requests for comment on the $5 million cash bail on which Darrell Brooks, Jr., the suspect in the Waukesha Christmas parade vehicle onslaught that killed five adults and one child, is being held.
At the time that Brooks allegedly plowed his SUV into the Christmas parade crowd on Sunday, he had been released from jail on what Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm called an “inappropriately low” bail amount of $1,000. Critics have claimed that liberal district attorneys’ bail reform efforts enabled the tragedy.
Fox News reached out to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the Marshall Project, The Brennan Center for Law and Justice, The Bail Project, Essie Justice Group and the ACLU, seeking comment on whether these bail reform organizations considered Brooks’ bail too high or too low. None of them responded to the request for comment.
Insha Rahman, vice president of advocacy and partnerships at the Vera Institute of Justice, did not comment on the sufficiency or insufficiency of the bail figure, but she did claim that a “system of pretrial services, monitoring, and supervision” would address the concerns about the ability of suspects like Brooks to go free when they might pose a danger to society.
“The problem with our money bail system is money,” Rahman told Fox News in an interview on Wednesday. “Money is not a good determinant of whether somebody will be safe when they’re released pre-trial.”
“A better way to make pre-trial decisions about whether people are going to be released is to actually build out the right system of pre-trial services,” the bail reform advocate argued, listing services such as “supervision, monitoring, support and counseling.”
She argued that a good system of pretrial services “could have prevented the tragedy that happened in Waukesha.” Such a system would include “an assessment of what the person’s needs are.” In Brooks’ case, a judge would have considered “issues around stability, concerns about his mental health, certainly about his ability to manage his anger and violence.”
“All of his issues could actually have been addressed,” Rahman argued. “The fact that there was a victim in this case who was at risk of being harmed or injured again, those are all factors a court should consider when deciding whether to detain somebody.”
Even under current Wisconsin law, Rahman argued, “the prosecutor could have requested pre-trial detention, and the court could have imposed that, but they chose not to.”