Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, who has introduced a bill along with Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., calling for a Department of Justice study on how the nation's courts are imposing bail and release conditions, said Thursday on Newsmax that the measure came after the deaths and injuries caused when a man free on bail drove his car into the Waukesha, Wisconsin Christmas parade late last year.
"This is something that happened right in [our] back yard," the Wisconsin Republican said on Newsmax's "Wake Up America." "We attended the memorial services for the six individuals that were murdered that evening. What we've been trying to do is brainstorm and come up with not only legislative ideas but a list of things that could be done at the federal level to prompt the states to move forward with reforms."
Darrell Brooks is facing a total of 77 charges, including six counts of first-degree intentional homicide. He had been freed on bail on a $1,000 bond, despite having an extensive criminal record, when he drove his car into the crowd, killing six and injuring more than 70 others.
Fitzgerald said the bill is the first step in pushing for reforms, and that he and Johnson have been speaking with colleagues to determine the inconsistencies that are being seen in pretrial releases of suspects.
Fitzgerald said he and Johnson initially believed that bail reform was something that would be needed in Wisconsin, but they are learning there are "huge, glaring, just missteps" in trial processes in many other states as well.
Part of the issue is that there are inconsistencies between states, including with private bail bondsmen and "district attorneys that are kind of in the middle of this carousel. Where, you know, they say we don't have the resources, and we don't have the personnel to deal with the significant numbers of these criminal cases," said Fitzgerald.
"That's what needs to be examined," he added. "The Waukesha murders were the incident that brought it to the forefront but we're very concerned that, you know, there are many of these individuals who are in multiple states committing crimes, and there's no connection between these legal systems."
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