Milwaukee activists calling for harsher penalties for reckless driving to meet chief judge, DA

NOW: Milwaukee activists calling for harsher penalties for reckless driving to meet chief judge, DA

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A new call for harsher penalties to help end Milwaukee's deadly reckless driving crisis is moving forward.

Since the start of this year, almost 50 people have died in traffic accidents in the city.

Almost 300 people have been seriously injured.

One citizen group delivered a petition with nearly 1,200 signatures to the chief judge at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. The organizer of the petition, Tracey Dent, said they're already hearing feedback on it.

"He is the reason that I'm standing here today," said Julie Wellinger, "and this is what he would want."

Wellinger's 22-year-old son Jerrod died last August in a crash caused by drag racing.

That's why she joined Dent when he dropped off all of the signatures at the county courthouse Wednesday.

The driver in that incident, 37-year-old James Malone, is facing two counts of first degree reckless homicide.

He's accused of racing 31-year-old James Hinton, who had his license revoked.

Wellinger said the petition sends a message to reckless drivers.

"So these people realize this isn't a joke. If I do this, this is what's going to happen," said Wellinger.

Dent said he and the petitioners are calling for harsher penalties, including keeping accused reckless drivers behind bars instead of letting them bail out.

"The chief judge and a deputy chief judge has said that they want to meet with me and discuss, you know, you know, how can we move forward and get a resolution for the community, as well as the court system," said Dent.

He said it's a start, but the end goal is legislation, both locally and statewide, to address a serious issue.

"This is just step one of phase one," said Dent, going on to ask, "where are the bottlenecks that's hindering so that we can legislate and start laying the hammer down on these people."

Wellinger said it's what she wants to see happen as well.

"I want justice for my son, and for every other person that has lost their life because of reckless driving," said Wellinger.

Dent said he will also be meeting with the DA next week.

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