On Monday, House Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez provoked the wrath of social media users for demanding answers on ‘excessive bail’ that prosecutors impose in New York City.
Meanwhile, fellow ‘squad’ member House Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Democrat from Michigan, had a hard time explaining her support for a law that would empty federal prisons within ten years.
The comments prompted harsh criticism. People accused the progressive lawmakers of being tone-deaf to air their views while the community of Waukesha grieves the loss of life from Sunday’s tragedy.
Darrell Brooks Jr, the alleged SUV driver who plowed into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, killing at least five people and injuring 48 more, was out on $1,000 bail at the time of the tragedy.
Brooks has been charged with crimes 16 times since 1999 and had two outstanding cases against him at the time of the parade disaster - including one in which he was accused of deliberately running down a woman with his vehicle.
Brooks has two pending criminal cases in Milwaukee County. In one open case, filed November 5, he is charged with resisting or obstructing an officer, reckless endangering, disorderly conduct, bail jumping, and battery.
The Waukesha tragedy did not stop Ocasio-Cortez and two of her Democratic colleagues from raising the issue of ‘excessive bail’ in New York City.
On Monday, the New York Congresswoman announced that she and two other Democratic lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee were seeking information on ‘prosecutors’ use of excessive bail in the New York City court system.’
Ocasio-Cortez, House Rep. Jamie Raskin, and House Rep. Carolyn Maloney wrote to the district attorneys of all five New York City boroughs. ‘We have grave concerns that excessive bail amounts are leading to unnecessary pretrial detention and contributing to a humanitarian crisis in New York City’s jail system, particularly on Rikers Island,’ the three Democrats wrote in their letter.
They highlight that ‘fourteen people have died this year in the custody of New York City Department of Correction.’
Condemning thousands of individuals to languish in an environment plagued by persistent overcrowding and mounting violence as they await trial is not acceptable and risks violating the federal civil rights of these individuals.
‘If these conditions are not addressed, federal intervention may be necessary to protect detainees from additional harm.’ State and local officials in New York have been struggling to address what has been called a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in the city’s jails, among them Rikers Island.
However, some Twitter users said that the timing of the letter was inappropriate given Sunday’s horrific events in Waukesha. Another user wrote: 'This is the first tweet you decided to put out after what just happened in Waukesha?!