By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — As the details of the horrifying Christmas parade massacre in Waukesha come more into focus, one thing appears perfectly clear: Five people wouldn’t be dead and dozens more injured today had someone shut down Milwaukee County’s revolving door of criminal justice.
A Milwaukee-area lawmaker says it’s time to stop liberal policies of catch and release of violent offenders.
“We have to pray for healing, but for these families we owe it to them to do whatever we can to limit the opportunity for something like this to happen again,” said state Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin), who tells Empower Wisconsin he and his colleagues will soon be introducing legislation on minimum bail thresholds.
Darrell Brooks Jr., the career criminal accused of driving his SUV through Waukesha’s annual Christmas parade Sunday afternoon, walked out of the Milwaukee County Jail a little more than two weeks ago on $1,000 bail. Brooks, 39, had been arrested — again — on charges of Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Battery, Obstructing an Officer, and Bail Jumping.
Brooks is expected to be charged with first-degree homicide counts and other charges, police said during a press conference Monday. Six children remained in critical condition Monday evening.
His rap sheet is long and violent. Brooks is a convicted sex offender who is wanted in Nevada on an active warrant for failing to obey sex offender laws, Fox News reported. At 24, Brooks was convicted in 2006 of having consensual sex with a 15-year-old and conceiving a child with her. He was sentenced to probation but was arrested for failure to obey sex offender laws in 2016. Brooks then jumped bail on that charge and never appeared in court.
“The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office has an active warrant for his arrest and believed that he was in Wisconsin as recently as last month, but did not have confirmation of his whereabouts,” Fox News reported.
On July 28, 2020, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office charged Brooks with two counts of second-degree recklessly endangering safety and for being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to court documents. Cash bail originally was set at $10,000, but subsequently reduced to $7,500.
Six months later, Brooks was still in prison (he couldn’t make bail) awaiting a speedy trial. Because another trial was in progress before the same court, the case was adjourned and bail was reduced to $500. Brooks paid that and was out on the streets again.
In Brooks’ latest run in with Milwaukee law enforcement on Nov. 5, prosecutors in Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office requested bail at $1,000 — for a habitual bail jumper and violent criminal. Brooks paid and left jail on Nov. 11 — 10 days before he is suspected of driving a red SUV into a Waukesha parade crowd, killing and maiming at least 48 people.
Chisholm acknowledges the state’s bail recommendation was “inappropriately low” in light of the nature of the charges against Brooks.
“The bail recommendation in this case is not consistent with the approach of the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office toward matters involving violent crime, nor was it consistent with the risk assessment of the defendant prior to setting of bail,” Chisholm wrote in a statement.
He said his office is conducting an internal review “in order to determine the appropriate next steps.”
Bradley says he doesn’t trust Chisholm and his office to conduct their own investigation. He pointed to the DA’s failure to prosecute what has been described as a multi-million dollar marijuana growing operation in a Franklin residential area.
“I can’t trust his investigation,” the senator said.
While Chisholm’s office goes easy on violent criminals, his prosecutors helped lead a secret, unconstitutional investigation into dozens of conservative organizations in a failed attempt to take down former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. The notorious John Doe II probe used government agents and taxpayer money to spy on and raid the homes of conservative activists on the bogus pretext of campaign finance violations. Chisholm pushed for the expansive investigation in 2012, not long after Walker became the first governor to survive a recall campaign.
Bradley says he is working on a bill involving signature bonds, legislation that would check how freely the bonds are being used by setting minimum thresholds.
About the same time Brooks was walking on $500 bail, Bradley and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) unveiled a bill that would revoke probation for repeat offenders.
“When I learned that probation isn’t immediately revoked when a criminal is charged with another crime or that an offender can violate their probation conditions and still qualify for expungement, it frankly blew my mind,” Bradley said at the time. I’m in favor of second chances, but we must ensure those who have already broken our laws aren’t getting opportunity after opportunity to wreak havoc on our neighborhoods.”
Or Christmas parades.