MILWAUKEE — A newly released pre-trial assessment for the Waukesha Christmas Parade suspect shows a litany of red flags overlooked by the court in setting his bail.
Darrell Brooks was charged with several domestic abuse charges on Nov. 5, 2021. He was given a $1,000 cash bail, something District Attorney John Chisholm called “inappropriately low.” That decision was supposed to be influenced by a Public Safety Assessment, meant to predict a person’s likelihood to show up to court or commit new crimes while released.
Brooks scored high in both categories.
The assessment has nine key factors in assigning a risk level, both for failure to appear and new criminal activity. On a six point scale, Brooks scored a four for failure to appear and a six, the maximum, for new criminal activity.
“He’s a fairly high risk assessment,” Julius Kim, Criminal Defense Attorney for Kim & Lavoy Attorneys At Law said. “New violent criminal activity, that’s a special flag that’s given to certain people that might demonstrate a propensity to be violent. His score was a six. According to the assessment, if he scores between four and seven, he should be flagged as someone who might be engaged in violent criminal activity.”
Kim helped the I-Team better understand the risk assessment. He says nearly every person who goes through the criminal court system in Milwaukee County completes this assessment. Here are the nine categories for Brooks after the Nov. 5th incident.
- Age: 23 or older
- Current violent offense: Yes
- Current violent offense and 20 years old or younger: No
- Pending charge at time of the offense: Yes
- Prior Misdemeanor conviction: Yes
- Prior felony conviction: Yes
- Prior conviction: Yes
- Prior violent conviction: 3 or more
- Prior failure to appear in the past two years: 0
- Prior failure to appear older than two years: Yes
- Prior sentence to incarceration: Yes
“The bail, in my opinion, was set too low,” Kim said. “But again, the human aspect of the system is part of what makes it good, but it’s also what opens it up to mistakes happening.”
The court system seemingly overlooked this information in setting the “inappropriately low” $1,000 cash bail for Brooks earlier this month. This assessment is meant to be but one tool for the court system to evaluate individual. But in Brooks’ case, it appears to be a glaring oversight.
“Things happen in court and there are certain bails that are set routinely,” Kim said. “That’s, in my opinion, due to the volume that comes through in Milwaukee County’s intake court. There are so many cases and so many cases that can be determined as violent offenses and after a while, it looks like everyone is a violent offender.”
Cash bail is one element the court can impose on holding those charged accountable. The pre-trial risk assessment shows Brooks was also assigned a GPS monitoring device. Ultimately, bail is not meant to be a monetary barrier to keep someone behind bars, Kim says, but rather an accountability device.
“Bail is just one component of these situations,” Kim said. “You can have a bail set in a high amount and it gets posted and people can still go out and commit new offenses. There’s nothing that people can really do about that. It’s an unfortunate reality of the system. It’s the reality of life.”
The District Attorney’s Office says they are reviewing this incident and DA Chisholm is expected to make comment on the situation at the Board of Supervisor’s Judicial and Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday afternoon.