Conservatives Should Resist the Urge To Blame Bail Reform for the Waukesha Parade Deaths

In Waukesha (Wisconsin), a SUV drove into a Christmas parade, killing at least five and injuring more than 40.

Details of the actual events are still unclear. However, Darrell Edward Brooks (39 years old) has been identified as a suspect and anonymous law enforcement sources told them. The Washington PostBrooks ran away quickly from the site of a knife fight. Brooks is a long-standing criminal defendant with violent convictions such as domestic abuse and battery. And he was out on a surprising low bail amount—$1,000—after already being charged with jumping bail for some of those past charges.

Just three days ago, Kyle Rittenhouse was charged with murder. The false narrative was first fuelled initially by inaccurate reporting and later ideologically motivated arguments. It was a highly polarizing case in ideological sorting, with liberals taking the opposing side and conservatives supporting the defendant.

One might think that conservatives would be reluctant to jump to conclusions based only on so few details after Rittenhouse. But as with Rittenhouse, there’s an ideological urge to attack a policy—in this case bail reform—to explain what happened Sunday.

Guy Benson, Fox News contributor Town Hall has posted several tweetsHe also posted clips showing him taking notes on how the media failed to cover Rittenhouse’s trial and charges. He posted the following:

Benson is my focus because I consider him a conservative and good-faith. The movement to decrease or abolish cash bail is motivated by the desire to return bail to its original purpose, which is to ensure that those charged with criminal offenses behave properly while in freedom and then to bring them back to trial to face the charges. People who are too dangerous for release should not be held in pretrial detention. We have instead a system in which who gets out is not determined by their ability to pay, but rather on whether they are dangerous or at risk. This results in millions of people serving prison terms for crimes they haven’t committed.

Although the Fifth Amendment demands due process, cash bail can often turn this system upside down. Pretrial detention is often a place where people plead guilty to bad plea agreements or are forced to remain.

Bail reform’s goal is not to liberate Brooks. It is about ensuring that the courts system works. Focus on people like Brooks.

Just a few hours later, Benson tweeted that the Milwaukee County district attorney had arrived. put out a lengthy statementBrooks’ story. Brooks was originally charged with reckless endangerment as well as felon in firearm possession. He initially faced a much larger bail of $7,500. Brooks demanded a speedy trial, but the court was unable to fulfill his demands due to conflicts with other courts. After paying $500 in February, his bail was reduced to $500 and he was freed. The man was again charged with failing to pay his bail in February. He was released with $1,000 bail for unknown reasons.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, the bail recommendation was inappropriately low and not consistent with Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office’s approach toward cases involving violent crimes. It was also inconsistent with the risk assessment made by the defendant before setting bail. Brooks’ escape with so small bail will be investigated by the office.

This is all to say that Brooks was an obvious bailee. The county’s risk assessment on Brooks, or was supposed to be on Brooks should have taken into account this possibility.

The D.A.’s office may be trying to hide its tracks. There are likely to be other Brooks cases. Milwaukee has a bad reputation for not being kind to criminal suspects. Its county jail let a man in isolation in 2016 dehydrate to death, as he didn’t have access to water. Milwaukee County was home to Sheriff David Clarke who believes in a harsh justice system, except for Donald Trump’s lame ducks.

The bail regulations in Wisconsin are clear. Judges can set bail at a level they believe will guarantee the defendant’s return to court. They are also authorized to set non-financial conditions. It is important to consider whether the defendant has been released on bail.

No matter what happens, tough-on crime conservatives must resist the temptation to attack bail in the same way that Rittenhouse attacked gun rights. The Second Amendment and Fifth Amendments protect us. Whose bail was too high? Rittenhouse’s! It is a sign of an inefficient system that Rittenhouse had to rely on celebrity conservatives for $2 million to help him prepare his case.

Public safety can be protected without bail being used as a way to penalize people prior to ever convicting them. Brooks case is not the only one. There are many others who have been held in pretrial detention for years and aren’t a danger to anyone, but they can’t afford their freedom.