On Wednesday’s New Day, CNN legal analyst Elie Honig actually called for tougher responses to crime in the wake of the tragedy in Waukesha, Wisconsin, where a man intentionally drove an SUV into a parade. Six people have died from their injuries so far. The perpetrator, Darrell Brooks, is in custody but had previously been out on $1000 bail for allegedly running over the mother of his child with the same SUV.
But first, anchor John Berman played a clip of former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, condemning the Waukesha attack and decrying “radicals from New York and elsewhere calling for the end of prison and the end of cash bail.”
Berman insisted that was somehow beyond the pale: “First of all, the end of prison and the end of bail are two completely different issues. Let’s just separate them right now.” The reality remains that dramatic changes to the criminal justice system are frequently liberal talking points, from defunding the police to, yes, abolishing prisons.
At the end of October, President Biden released a “National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality,” which included a promise to “work to end cash bail and reform our pretrial system, recognizing the harm these processes cause, particularly for Black women and families.” In this case, low cash bail enabled the deaths of six people celebrating at a Christmas parade.
Nobody uttered the word “Biden” in this segment. He couldn’t possibly be discussed.
Honig called the prior release of Brooks “the result of a broken cash bail system in Wisconsin and many other states, combined with prosecutorial malpractice,” explaining that, currently, every defendant in that state is entitled to cash bail. He argued that bail ought to be set according to risk, rather than according to wealth.
After Brooks’ prior criminal history was revealed, the Milwaukee district attorney’s office acknowledged that the bail posted was “inappropriately low.”
In response to this unsatisfying non-apology, Honig exclaimed, “that is the understatement of the century…Darrell Brooks has a criminal record going back to the 90s. He’s a registered sex offender. In 2020, he gets arrested for a firearms offense and released on $500 bail? Then, two weeks ago he gets arrested for trying to run someone over with a car, and this time they up the bail from $500 to $1,000? That is outrageous. That is inexplicable.”
The district attorney, John Chisholm, has described himself as a progressive and has advocated for reforms and programs that put criminals back on the streets prematurely.
Honig stated that he believed “Darrell Brooks certainly would have qualified” as one of the “most violent offenders” who would have been incarcerated without the option of cash bail in states such as New Jersey, with tougher bail laws for violent offenders. “If you’re high-risk, you shouldn’t be able to pay your way out,” he concluded.
“It only works if the violent offenders can’t get out, at all,” Berman agreed.
After a shocking crime like this, even the liberal media acknowledges the foolishness of the radical left’s proposed criminal justice reforms.
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Read the full segment transcript below by clicking Expand:
CNN New Day
JOHN BERMAN: Darrell Brooks was released from police custody just days before the parade by posting $1,000 cash bail, which the D.A. now says was inappropriately low. And that’s raised questions about an issue that has had some bipartisan support — bail reform.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT WALKER: And this is somebody who belongs in prison. And after all this talk, the latest of which you just mentioned, with radicals from New York and elsewhere calling for the end of prison and the end of cash bail, this is outrageous. People like this need to be protected from the public and it’s an absolute breakdown that this happened.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: All right. First of all, the end of prison and the end of bail are two completely different issues. Let’s just separate them right now. But joining us now is Elie Honig, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal and state prosecutor who was heavily involved in the overhaul of the bail system in New Jersey.
First, Elie, you know, people look at this and say this guy paid a thousand bucks to get out for what absolutely appeared to be violent offenses. How could that be?
ELIE HONIG: Yeah, John, this is the result of a broken cash bail system in Wisconsin and many other states, combined with prosecutorial malpractice. So, let me break that down. In Wisconsin, every defendant is entitled to cash bail, even now. Darrell Brooks — now that he’s killed six people — still has cash bail. It’s $5 million. He’ll never reach it. But if he was wealthy, he could pay that and get out of jail. They base bail there on wealth — on can you post the money. A better system is to base it on risk. So, an obviously high-risk offender, like Darrell Brooks, can get locked up without bail. On top of that, the prosecutors here — to see their comment now that the bail was inappropriately low — that is the understatement of the century. I mean, let’s walk it through. As Omar said, Darrell Brooks has a criminal record going back to the 90s. He’s a registered sex offender. In 2020, he gets arrested for a firearms offense and released on $500 bail? Then, two weeks ago he gets arrested for trying to run someone over with a car, and this time they up the bail from $500 to $1,000? That is outrageous. That is inexplicable.
BERMAN: First of all, there hasn’t been meaningful bail reform, as far as I know, in Wisconsin.
BERMAN: It’s not one of the states that has had it. The reasons behind bail reform, Elie, are what?
HONIG: So, there’s two legitimate purposes for bail. One is to ensure that the person comes back to court and doesn’t flee. The second is to protect the community, and that’s not a feature of the Wisconsin system. In the federal system where I grew up as a prosecutor and in New Jersey after we changed it, you can take that into account. You can go in front of a judge as a prosecutor and say this person, Darrell Brooks, is too dangerous. Based on his criminal record, based on the fact that he has warrants out for him now, based on the fact that he tried to run someone over nine days ago, and he needs to be locked up. No cash bail. It doesn’t matter if he’s wealthy. He can’t, if he can’t, he needs to be locked up — no cash bail, period.
BERMAN: Most, or at least many bail reform advocates that I have heard from — what they argue for is if you have — if you’re — if you’re charged with violent offenses, it’s no bail. You don’t get released no matter what. That’s how bail reform works. It’s arguing for the elimination of bail for non-violent offenders, usually low- level drug offenses, right?
HONIG: Yeah, and it should go both ways. What we did in New Jersey is we went from a cash bail system like the one in Wisconsin to one where the most violent offenders — and I think Darrell Brooks certainly would have qualified — they get locked up and can’t pay their way out. On the other side of the coin, though, there are mind-boggling numbers of low-risk, non-violent offenders who are stuck in prison because they can’t post minimal bail. We did a study in New Jersey and found that 12 percent of our entire incarcerated population — thousands of people — were locked up, not yet convicted, waiting for trial because they could not post $2,500 cash bail. If you’re low-risk, you should not be rotting behind bars waiting for prison, waiting for your trial. But if you’re high-risk, you shouldn’t be able to pay your way out.
BERMAN: It only works if the violent offenders can’t get out —
BERMAN: — at all.
BERMAN: Elie Honig, thank you —
HONIG: Thanks, John.
BERMAN: — very much for being with us.