Wisconsin Christmas parade case raises questions around bail

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Detractors to bail reform and early release are using the case of Darrell Brooks as a warning. Brooks, accused of driving into a Wisconsin Christmas parade, received low bail for a previous charge.
Wisconsin Christmas parade case raises questions around bail


The death toll in Waukesha, Wis., has risen to six following the mayhem caused by an SUV that plowed through a pre-Christmas parade on Sunday. The accused driver is Darrell Brooks, a 39-year-old out on bail for a previous violent incident. As NPR's Martin Kaste reports, Brooks has become the flashpoint for the national debate over bail.

MARTIN KASTE, BYLINE: Darrell Brooks had allegedly run somebody else over earlier this month. He was charged in Milwaukee County, then let out on supervised release by posting $1,000 bail. It's that dollar amount that has conservative voices howling. The New York Post ran an editorial calling the parade tragedy the, quote, "deadly result of progressive arrogance on bail reform." But the factors leading to his release may have been more complicated than that.

ERIKA BIERMA: I mean, when you look at everything that's happened with COVID, Milwaukee County, Waukesha County, Dane County, some of the more populated counties, were really backlogged.

KASTE: Erika Bierma is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Wisconsin.

BIERMA: A lot of courts in the populated counties may have reevaluated bond decisions in a way that they wouldn't have done in pre-COVID.

KASTE: Still, it is true that the district attorney of Milwaukee County, John Chisholm, believes in reducing pretrial detention. It's not known if that's what led to his prosecutor…
Martin Kaste
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