Law & the Courts

Milwaukee DA Launches Investigation into Waukesha Suspect’s ‘Inappropriately Low’ Cash Bond

Darrell Brooks poses for a booking photograph at the Milwaukee County Jail in Milwaukee, Wis., November 3, 2021. (Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters)

In the aftermath of the Waukesha car attack that left multiple locals dead and dozens wounded, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has called for an investigation into the “inappropriately low” cash bond offered to alleged perpetrator Darrell Brooks Jr.

After his cash bail was posted for $1,000, Brooks was able to leave prison, where he was incarcerated for other serious offenses, in a matter of days.

On Sunday night, Brooks allegedly rammed through a crowd watching the Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wis. with his vehicle, killing six and injuring over 40 people, including children and some elderly. The six victims include
eight-year old Jackson Sparks, Virginia Sorenson (79), Leanna Owens (71), Tamara Duran (52), James Coolidge (52), and Wilhelm Hospel (82), police confirmed Monday.

Before committing the crime Sunday, Brooks, a black man in his late 30s, already had a long criminal history, including charges of domestic abuse, battery, disorderly conduct, recklessly endangering safety, bail-jumping felony, and resisting or obstructing an officer, according to the Wisconsin courts website. When he was bailed out, Brooks also faced multiple pending cases in Milwaukee County involving second-degree reckless endangerment and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In July 2020, Brooks’ bail was originally set at $10,000 and later reduced to $7,500, the district attorney’s office said, according to a summary of his pending charges written by Chisholm. But then in November 2021, the state made a cash bail request of $1,000, set by the court, which allowed the defendant’s relatively easy release from custody.

“This 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,” Chisholm wrote, announcing the internal review into the estimate.

However, in the past, Chisholm has advocated for prosecutorial reform to eliminate the practice of keeping inmates in jails on cash bail, his previous tweets reveal.

In a tweet from December 18, Chisholm appeared to laud another district attorney’s position on prosecutorial reform, re-posting his quote which read: “We have really made a commitment to not keeping individuals held unnecessarily on cash bail in the Milwaukee County Jail.”

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