Clearly, Mr. Brooks — who had a 1999 criminal history of assault, domestic violence, sex crimes, drug offenses and bail jumping — should never have been eligible for such a low bail, regardless of the state of the courts. , lawyers who work in the system, said.
Each defendant is screened through a pre-trial risk assessment that uses nine data points, including age and previous convictions, to assess the defendant’s risk of failing to appear in court and committing a new crime. Judges or commissioners receive the risk score, along with defense and prosecution recommendations, before determining bail amount and release terms, which can range from very little supervision for low-risk suspects to weekly check-ins and GPS monitoring.
The risk assessment is not a matter of public record, but anyone with Mr Brooks’ history would almost certainly have been given a six out of six and marked as high risk of violence, several attorneys said.
Mr Brooks was ordered to be under “Level 5” surveillance, the most restrictive level possible, according to documents prepared for his Nov. 5 bail hearing. He was ordered to stay away from two female witnesses in the case and was prohibited from carrying a firearm, but was not required to carry a GPS device to track his location. The $1,000 security deposit was posted by a family member.
The prosecutor assigned to the case of Mr. Brooks, Michelle A. Grasso, a 2019 graduate of Marquette University Law School, and Carole Manchester, a veteran attorney who represented the firm at the bail hearing, did not respond to requests for comment.
The Milwaukee bail system, with its protocols to the trial, is the result of a long-standing collaboration between the district judges, the office of Mr. Chisholm and the local public defender. In 2012, the courts introduced risk assessments to reduce unnecessary restrictions on low-level defenders and more accurately identify those who needed closer supervision.
“With a tragedy like this, a real tragedy, we have no way of predicting when this is likely to happen or not,” said Meghan Guevara, an executive partner at the Pretrial Justice Institute. “If the judges weren’t going to have to go through so many cases, they might have time to focus on a case like this,” she added.