Progressive Prosecutor Project Strikes Again

Chairs are left folded on Main Street after a car plowed through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wis., November 22, 2021. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

Progressive prosecutors always have the courage of their convictions as long as they’re just gasbagging about their lofty aspirations for society . . . which is to say, right up until their abstractions about “equity,” “systemic racism,” and the need to “reform” our “broken system” crash into the reality of violent, recidivist crime that destroys the lives of flesh-and-blood Americans.

At that point, it’s always some underling’s fault — some nameless bureaucrat who didn’t get the subtle, oh-so-thoughtful nuances of the boss’s position.

I mean, how could subordinate prosecutors in the office of Milwaukee district attorney John Chisolm have possibly thought that when, for years, he donned the mantle of self-styled progressive crusader against cash bail and in favor of diverting criminals away from incarceration, he meant that criminals should be given low bail to keep them out of jail?

Maybe it was because Chisolm proudly said so himself?

In 2007, when he was elected DA, Chisolm told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it was inevitable — “guaranteed” — that some criminal who had avoided being detained due to Chisolm’s, er, enforcement philosophy would use that opportunity to go out and commit murder, but that even such a horrific crime would not make him reconsider his approach. As he put it:

Is there going to be an individual I divert, or I put into treatment program, who’s going to go out and kill somebody? You bet. Guaranteed. It’s guaranteed to happen. It does not invalidate the overall approach.

So thoughtful! So compassionate! So . . . recklessly irresponsible.

Naturally, now that the policies he’s spent his career championing have apparently enabled a violent career criminal, Darrell Brooks Jr., to murder five people and injure dozens of others in an unspeakably horrific mass-casualty attack on Sunday in Waukesha, Chisolm is singing a different tune.

Suddenly, he has decided that the paltry $1,000 bail to which his office agreed three weeks ago when Brooks allegedly assaulted the mother of one of his children — including running a car over her leg in a gas-station parking lot — was too low, after all.

Chisolm can’t imagine how that happened, especially given that Brooks had a long criminal record of violent offenses, was already on bail in Milwaukee in connection with violent crime and firearms offenses (on which Chisolm’s office had agreed to drastically reduced bail when it failed to timely bring the case to trial), and was also the subject of a pending Nevada warrant arising out of his failure to comply with sex-offender provisions. (Yup, Brooks is a sex-offender, too — and the warrant was pending on both occasions when Chisolm’s office recently released him on low bail.)

So now Chisolm says Brooks’s latest bail was “inappropriately low,” and he’ll be conducting an internal investigation into why his office would agree to such a thing. Don’t you feel better now?

I wonder what the internal investigation will find. It couldn’t possibly be that agreeing to low-bail or no-bail arrangements is exactly what junior prosecutors understood the boss expected, right? The boss who has argued that cash bail “criminalizes poverty.” The boss who brags that, when other progressive prosecutors across the country implement non-enforcement policies, they are following the trail he blazed.

This is how it always goes. When it’s the political season for progressives, there are no criminals. There is just a “system” that is inherently racist — notwithstanding the prominence of progressives at the helm of that system for a century. Since it is society, not the offender, who is to blame, then obviously we must reject such measures as requiring bail to be posted (to protect the society and encourage compliance with its court procedures) and mandating that convicted criminals be incarcerated (again, to protect the society).

Then, we’re supposed to look the other way when, as predictably as the morning sun, something like the Waukesha massacre is carried out by a violent career criminal who is at liberty to prey on the community solely because of a preening progressive prosecutor.

At that point, the fearless, truth-telling reformer tells you that five innocent people were murdered in cold blood at a holiday celebration because of an unfortunate bureaucratic snafu. “It does not invalidate the overall approach.”