Wisconsin GOP proposes $10,000 minimum bail for some defendants with criminal records

Republican state lawmakers in Wisconsin want the minimum bail for defendants with a felony or violent misconduct on their criminal record to be increased to $10,000. The proposal for a tighter bail policy comes in the wake of the Waukesha Christmas parade accident, allegedly by a man who was released two days ago on $1,000 bail in a domestic violence case.

According to prosecutors, suspect Darrell Brooks Jr. was arrested on November 21 last year, weeks before he allegedly drove his SUV through the parade crowd. He allegedly crushed the mother of his child, but Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm’s office requested the posting of a $1,000 cash bail for his release.

He posted bail two days before the parade, which killed six people and injured more than 60. Chisholm has said the reduced bail request was just an oversight, but Republicans have accused him of facilitating the deadly attack and are now pushing bills that try to prevent similar lapses from happening again. We do.

The Wisconsin State Journal reported that in addition to increasing the minimum bail for some defendants, the bill from GOP lawmakers would prevent judges from setting an unsecured bond or allowing someone to be released without bail when that person has been granted bail in the past. have been convicted. , The Wisconsin Justice Department must draft a “Bond Transparency Report” on delinquency and bond terms.

Wisconsin lawmakers’ proposal for a stricter bail policy comes in the wake of the Waukesha Christmas parade crash, reportedly caused by a man who was released two days ago on $1,000 bail in a domestic violence case. Above, memorials are seen along Main Street in downtown Waukesha on November 22, 2021, following the Christmas parade accident in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
Jim Wondruska/Getty Images

The bipartisan calls for bail reform come after details about the deaths at the Waukesha Christmas Parade and earlier bail amounts for Brooks.

Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, both Democrats, announced their support for strict bail policies last month.

“I think it’s worth talking about,” Evers told The Associated Press in a December interview. “We just want to make sure that we are not infringing on the various rights and responsibilities that everyone has. But I am ready to make changes. And so let’s start the conversation.”

The bills must be approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Evers before they can become law.

In December, Republicans also proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to set monetary bail considering the seriousness of an alleged offense as well as a defendant’s criminal history, flight risk and public safety risk.

A constitutional amendment has to be passed by the legislature in two sessions and approved by the voters before it can take effect. The governor has no role.

Under the state’s constitution, judges cannot impose cash bail to prevent future crimes, only to ensure that defendants appear in court. However, judges can add conditions to a person’s bail if they wish to address public safety concerns.

“This revolving door for criminals must end,” Franklin Republican State Senator Julian Bradley said in a statement announcing the package of bills. “We must bring accountability and transparency to the court system to ensure that serial perpetrators do not continue to have the opportunity to harm our communities and families.”

A group of Milwaukee taxpayers filed a complaint against Chisholm with Evers in early December, starting a process that could end with Chisholm’s removal from Evers’ office. The governor said his office was reviewing the complaint, but he and Kaul said voters should choose whether to remove Chisholm from office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Evers backs bail minimum increase
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has said he would support strict bail policies following the deadly Waukesha Christmas parade crash. Above, Evers waits to address the virtual Democratic National Convention on August 19, 2020 at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee.
Melina Mara / Pool / Getty Images