Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Monday called for a "federal intervention" against the use of "excessive bail" just one day after the horrific attack in Waukesha, Wis., allegedly committed by a felon who was out on an "inappropriately low bail amount."
In a letter sent to five New York City district attorneys, Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D., N.Y.), and Rep. Jamie Raskin (D., Md.) demanded details on the bail conditions used by prosecutors. They alleged that the use of cash bail contributes to overcrowding in New York's correctional facilities, particularly Rikers Island.
"Condemning thousands of individuals to languish in an environment plagued by persistent overcrowding and mounting violence as they await trial is not acceptable, and risks violating the federal civil rights of these individuals," the letter from the lawmakers reads. "If these conditions are not addressed, federal intervention may be necessary to protect detainees from additional harm."
Less than 24 hours prior, Darrell Edward Brooks Jr. allegedly drove his red Ford SUV into a Christmas parade in downtown Waukesha, a suburb of Milwaukee. The rampage killed 5 people and injured at least 48 others, with many of the victims requiring intense care at the nearby hospital. Brooks, whom police have identified as the principal suspect, was released earlier this month after he posted $1,000 bail. He had been arrested for allegedly beating his girlfriend and hitting her with his car in a gas station parking lot.
Milwaukee County district attorney John Chisholm (D.) said he was reviewing "inappropriately low bail amount" for Brooks, a startling concession from a left-wing prosecutor. Chisholm has boasted about his restorative-justice approach to crime, calling concerns about rising crime part of a "false information" campaign from the right.
"Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into [a] treatment program, who's going to go out and kill somebody?" he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2007. "You bet. Guaranteed. It's guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach."
Brooks's criminal history dates back to at least 1999 and includes a litany of charges, ranging from felony possession of a firearm to domestic violence.
Calls to eliminate cash bail extend beyond the far left of the Democratic Party. President Joe Biden, a self-described moderate, in October released a "National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality" report that cited ending "cash bail and reform[ing] our pretrial system" as critical to ending disparities between men and women.
During the 2020 presidential campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris urged her followers to donate to a Minneapolis bail fund. Among those who donated were at least 13 Biden campaign staffers. One individual who benefited from the fund, an alleged domestic abuser, was arrested weeks after his release on a murder charge.