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'My son would still be here': Revisiting a family's push for tougher bail policies one year later

Posted at 3:23 PM, Apr 04, 2024

It's been one year since the State Assembly cracked down on bail reform across Wisconsin. The amendment passed last year makes it harder for defendants to get out on bail before trial.

The cash bail system is designed to help ensure a person accused of a crime actually returns to court. The amendment allows judges to consider more factors when setting bail amounts.

Judges and court commissioners can now consider past convictions when setting cash bail for someone accused of committing a violent crime. They're also allowed to set conditions meant to protect the public when someone is released before trial. Prior to the new amendment, judges were not allowed to consider any past criminal convictions.

Cash bail reform, one year later
Cash bail reform, one year later

The Assembly passed the constitutional amendment in a 74-23 vote on April 4th, 2023. Ahead of that vote, we spoke with the Peer family, who pushed for tougher bail policies after the death of their son. Danari Peer was killed when the car he was riding in crashed violently. Peer's father, Jackie, believes this crash would never have happened if the driver, who he says was facing several felony charges, had not been let out repeatedly on low bail.

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Danari Peer (right) was killed in 2023 when the car he was riding in crashed violently. Danari's father, Jackie (left), believes this crash would never have happened if the driver, who he says was facing several felony charges, had not been let out repeatedly on low bail.

"My son would still be here if they did what they're supposed to do -- and that's protect the public," Jackie says.

We also spoke with criminal defense attorney Jonathan LaVoy, who feared that doubling down on cash bail would only worsen disparities.

Jonathan LaVoy
Jonathan LaVoy, defense attorney

"That's gonna have an effect on people with low income, people that are unable to post bail," LaVoy said. "People who have money are going to be able to get out. This will have a negative impact on the most poorest in our communities."