Court Watch NYC: Transparency, Accountability and Community Engagement
Over the last few months we have seen some important developments in the bail landscape: Governor Cuomo proposed a series of criminal justice reform measures, including bail reform; the District Attorneys in Brooklyn and Manhattan announced new guidelines whereby their offices will no longer request that bail be set in most misdemeanor and violation cases; and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer released a report detailing the economic harm caused by bail, bail bonds and the criminal legal system, and calling for the elimination of the commercial bail bond industry in NYC.
Yet bail continues to imprison low-income New Yorkers, with the impact falling most heavily on communities of color.
Since the Governor’s and DAs’ announcements in January, the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund has paid bail for hundreds of individuals accused of misdemeanors, men and women who would have been imprisoned for their poverty alone.
Because we know from experience that transparency and accountability drive true change, the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund along with VOCAL-NY and 5 Boro Defenders has launched Court Watch NYC, a community-driven movement that will hold our DAs accountable to their promises to reduce inequality and unnecessary incarceration in our city’s criminal legal system.
Get Involved - Become a Court Watch Volunteer
Court Watch volunteers are the eyes and ears of accountability in New York City courtrooms, collecting real-time data on what is actually happening in courtrooms; capturing the narratives not reflected in official accounts; fostering intentional communit presence n the courtroom to shift court practices and culture; and contributing to th accountability movement in the courtroom and in the community.
● As a volunteer Court Watcher, attend arraignments in Brooklyn and Manhattan and record the cases and outcomes they observe in the courtroom.
● As a volunteer member of the Data Team, enter data Court Watchers have collected; analyze data for key themes; compare qualitative and quantitative data; and contribute findings to the weekly blog posts.
You can learn more or become a Court Watch NYC by checking out this link. Thank you for joining us in the fight for true reform.
Brooklyn Community Bail Fund
The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund pays bail for New Yorkers who can’t afford even modest amounts, and who would be jailed or forced to plead guilty just to go home.
The Fund partners with every public defender agency in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Staten Island. We also work with reentry specialists and social service providers to connect clients in need with resources in the areas of employment, education, housing and counseling.
We work with allies here in New York and across the country in the fight to end cash bail. Ours is a radical intervention in a system that treats people differently based on wealth, skin color and influence. We’re challenging the criminalization of race and poverty, the practice of putting a price on fundamental rights, and the persistent myth that bail is a necessary element of the justice system.