Sen. Ron Johnson asks DOJ if it tracks criminal record of accused felons granted pre-trial release

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Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., penned a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland seeking information on Department of Justice efforts to monitor the trend of pre-trial releases for individuals charged with a felony.

“The attack on the Waukesha Christmas Parade by a repeat violent offender brought to the nation’s attention the issue of pre-trial release of criminal violent offenders and subsequent violent crimes committed by such individuals,” Johnson said in the letter, which was sent Tuesday.

Rep. Ron Johnson.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

While Johnson featured the Waukesha, Wisconsin parade attack that killed six and injured more than 60, he argued that it was “not a singular issue” and noted “there are numerous reports from across the country of violent crimes committed by individuals out on pre-trial release after being charged for a felony violent offense.”

Johnson said that five days before suspected attacker Darrell Brooks used his SUV to drive through the crowd, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office charged him with second-degree recklessly endangering safety, battery, disorderly conduct, and obstructing an officer. But Brooks was released on only $1,000 bail, despite court documents showing he was at high-risk to skip bail or engage in criminal activity

“It is unclear if DOJ currently collects information on crimes committed by individuals on pre-trial release,” Johnson said in the letter. “Congress provides funding for DOJ to collect and analyze information on crime, including on pre-trial release, and I urge DOJ to publish such information immediately.”

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland. 
(Samuel Corum-Pool/Getty Images)

Johnson went on to list several other examples of accused felons committing violent offenses while on pre-trial release, noting that felony bail jumping “increased in recent years in multiple jurisdictions across the country” at the same time “the FBI also reported a sharp rise in violent crimes, including for murder, rape, robbery and assault. The report found that murder surged across the country by nearly 30%.”

Police and emergency responders gather after a vehicle plowed through the Christmas Parade. Right: Darrell Brooks. 
(Scott Ash-USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS)

Johnson requests that Garland provide him with information on the National Pretrial Reporting Program and any data the DOJ has collected on individuals charged with felonies on pre-trial release.

“The American public has the right to know how many of these crimes were committed by individuals who were out on the streets after posting meager bail, or none at all,” Johnson said.

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