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Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Previous Release of Waukesh Suspect Amplifies Efforts to Reduce Bail

It is clear that Mr. Brooks, who in 1999 had a criminal history of violence, domestic violence, sex crimes, drug crimes and bail jumping, should never have been entitled to such low bail regardless of the state of the courts, lawyers who work in the system said.

Each accused undergoes a pre-trial risk assessment using nine data points, including age and previous convictions, to assess the risk that the accused will fail to appear in court and commit a new crime. Judges or court commissioners receive a risk assessment along with defense and prosecution recommendations before setting bail amounts and release conditions, which can range from very weak supervision of low-risk defendants to weekly checks and GPS monitoring. …

The risk assessment is not a public document, but someone with Mr. Brooks’ history would almost certainly score a six out of six and be flagged as a high risk of violence, several lawyers said.

According to the documents prepared for the November 5 bail hearing, Mr. Brooks was ordered to be under “Level 5” supervision – the highest possible level. He was ordered to stay away from the two female witnesses in the case and prohibited from carrying firearms, but was not required to wear a GPS device to track his whereabouts. A $ 1,000 bond was posted by a relative.

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Brooks’ attorney, Michelle A. Grasso, a 2019 Law graduate from Marquette University, and Carol Manchester, a veteran attorney who represented the office at the bail hearing, did not respond to requests for comment. …

Milwaukee’s bail system, with its pre-trial records, is the result of years of collaboration between district judges, Mr. Chisholm’s office, and a local community defender. Courts introduced risk assessments in 2012 to reduce unnecessary restrictions on low-level HRDs and to more accurately identify those who require closer oversight.

“With such a tragedy, a real tragedy, we have no way of predicting when it might or might not happen,” said Megan Guevara, executive partner of the Pre-Trial Justice Institute. “If judges didn’t have to handle so many cases, they might have time to focus on such a case,” she added.

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