Criminal Justice Reformer: Fewer SUVs, Not Higher Bail, Could Have Prevented Waukesha Massacre


The man who allegedly plowed through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, killing six people and injuring dozens of others, was free because of cash bail that was far too low. That’s not just me talking, that’s the progressive Milwaukee district attorney who has championed bail reform in the city.

According to Fox News, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said that in the case of Waukesha suspect Darrell E. Brooks — who was released on just $1,000 bail earlier this month after allegedly trying to run over his girlfriend with his car — the prosecution had erred.

“The state’s bail recommendation in this case was inappropriately low in light of the nature of the recent charges and the pending charges against Mr. Brooks,” Chisholm said. “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.”

It’s not as if this was the first time Brooks, 39, was in trouble with the law; he has a criminal history that’s 44 pages long, starting in 1999.

It’s also not that Chisholm is especially bashful about his approach to leniency. “Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody?” Fox News reported he told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal in 2007. “You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.”

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Even the woke DA thought the approach was wrong in the case of the Waukesha massacre suspect. What more is there to say on the matter?

Plenty, if you’re Shane Ferro, a progressive criminal justice reformer and a staff attorney with a New York City public defenders agency, according to her LinkedIn profile. A Columbia Law graduate, she previously wrote for Business Insider, HuffPost and Reuters.

She also tweets prolifically (and influentially) about criminal justice reform, with more than 13,000 followers on Twitter. Her profile includes a quote from a friend: “Hates cash bail, loves cash handups.” She wasn’t kidding.

Ferro’s take? If we just spent a little more time reducing the number of SUVs on the road, we would have stood a better chance of averting the Waukesha tragedy than if Brooks’ bail had been higher.

Should the Waukesha suspect have been held on higher bail?

“The carceral liberals are ALL OVER the Waukesha guy’s record like if only there was juuuuust a little more jail in his past he wouldn’t have killed a bunch of people with a car and I just can’t,” she tweeted Tuesday night.

“What if instead of asking whether a tiny bit more jail would have fixed this person we ask whether fewer cars (SUVs) in America would lead to fewer people killed.”

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She doubled down on this logic in her Twitter thread, insisting “the policy key to keeping parades safe from cars is not jacking up bail it is pedestrian safety and lower societal reliance on climate destroying death machines.”

Ferro was apparently triggered by a New York Times article that looked at Brooks’ criminal record — as if, you know, that might have been part of the story here.

“This story yesterday just absolutely set me off because instead of talking about how easy it is to take another person’s life with a gas pedal the lead of the NYT was a story sifting through this guy’s RAP sheet like a navel-gazing true crime podcaster,” she tweeted.

“It is true that a lot of people who commit mass murders in the U.S. have [domestic violence] histories, but what, actually, does that mean? It’s a correlation, sure, but what kind of rational policy response can you create from that? How do you pick out the mass murderers from the a**holes?”

WARNING: The following tweets contain graphic language that some readers will find offensive.

Sure, serial reoffenders tend to reoffend, but what kind of policy prescriptions can you draw from that knowledge? Aside from the fact that $1,000 bail is too low for a man who was charged with trying to run his girlfriend over?

But no, Ferro was having none of it. Earlier, she had gone Bart-Simpson-on-the-blackboard when quote-tweeting The Wall Street Journal’s Anthony DeRosa, who wrote, “Low bail that led to the release of the man accused of driving an SUV through a downtown Christmas parade and killing six people here is prompting debates among lawmakers over bail policies in Wisconsin.”

Right. The idea that bail should be commensurate with the seriousness of the crime never seems to have crossed Ferro’s mind — or, at least, she didn’t let it get in the way of her hot takes.

Let me remind you, this is a lawyer who graduated from Columbia. You may have forgotten by this point.

The proliferation of bad social media hot takes on Waukesha — from both the right and left — made it pretty easy to find something cretinous. The shocking thing is that the worst I’ve seen, thus far, comes from a blue-checkmark Ivy League law grad, public defender and criminal justice influencer.

Ferro doesn’t see why Brooks’ bail should be the issue at all, despite the fact he had a long history of felonies and misdemeanors and recently had been charged with trying to run over a woman. Even the woke DA acknowledges that was an error, but she’s doubling down for him.

And what should we blame instead? SUVs. If there were fewer “climate destroying death machines” in the world, six people might be alive today.

I perfervidly hope Ferro is more logical in a courtroom than she is on Twitter.

If not, the best thing she can do for criminal justice reform is to stop practicing law.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture