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DA John Chisholm ‘Guaranteed’ His Diversion Approach Would ‘Kill Somebody’

“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” – Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm

Milwaukee County DA John Chisholm “guaranteed” that his diversion approach to the criminal justice system would result in someone being killed.

That was years before the Waukesha Christmas Parade massacre with a repeat offender who was released on bail so low even the DA himself now says it was inappropriate. But back in 2007, he promised his approach to the criminal justice system would result in someone going out and killing somebody.

Five people died and 48 people were injured in the Waukesha Christmas Parade horror.

“Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” John Chisholm said in a 2007 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”

The Journal Sentinel republished that John Chisholm quote in 2013, in a story that read, “Overdose death highlights deferred prosecutions in Milwaukee County.” That story noted, “Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has long been a proponent of diverting nonviolent offenders from the traditional criminal justice system to programs aimed at giving them a second chance.”

The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office is acknowledging an “inappropriately low” bail recommendation from his office based on Darrell Brooks’ recent and pending charges.

Darrel Brooks has been accused by Waukesha Police of driving the red SUV through the Waukesha Christmas Parade just before 5 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 21.

See Darrell Brooks’s criminal history here.

Here is the District Attorney’s full statement:

Below is the summary of pending charges against Mr. Darrell Brooks: On July 27, 2020, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued two counts of second-degree Recklessly Endangering Safety and Felon In Possession of a Firearm in case2020CF002550. Cash bail was originally set at $10,000 and subsequently reduced to $7,500. Unlike some other states, Wisconsin requires payment for the full amount of bail set in any criminal case.

On February 9, 2021, the State was prepared to proceed to a scheduled jury trial. Mr. Brooks was still in custody on this matter and previously made a demand for a speedy jury trial. Because another jury trial was in progress before the same court, the defendant’s demand for a speedy jury trial could not be met. The case was adjourned and bail reduced to $500, which the defendant posted on February 21, 2021.

On November 5, 2021, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office issued against Mr.Brooks charges of Second Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Felony Bail Jumping, Battery, Obstructing an Officer and Disorderly Conduct in case 2021CF004596. The most recent case against Mr. Brooks was appropriately charged. The State made a cash bail request in this case of$1,000, which was set by the court. The defendant posted $1,000 cash bail on November 11, resulting in his release from custody.

The State’s bail recommendation, in this case, was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent changes and the pending charges against Mr. 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.

This office is currently conducting an internal review of the decision to make the recent bail recommendation in this matter in order to determine the appropriate next steps.

The severe court backlogs in Milwaukee County are an issue we wrote about Sept. 18, 2021, but that the other media have shown little interest in. We reported then that Milwaukee County criminal courts are operating with a two-year backlog, and the felony case backlog was 1,615 cases in the latest estimate from late August, the Chief Judge Mary Triggiano confirmed to Wisconsin Right Now.

There was a backlog of jury trials too. Triggiano said in the interview with Wisconsin Right Now that there are 350 cases awaiting jury trial where the person is in custody with a speedy trial request. Some of those cases will be resolved short of trial, and some still have other court activities going on, like discovery requests, she said. The courts were able to toll the speedy trial mandates and are still able to waive them for cause due to the pandemic, she said.

She blamed COVID-19.

The backlogs come as crime skyrockets in Milwaukee.

“We’ve taken this pandemic very, very seriously, as well as we should, including the variants…we’re being very careful,” Triggiano told a County Board committee. She likened the court system’s “recovery efforts” to a “dimmer switch,” where the system goes back to normal gradually, not all at once.

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