BINGHAMTON, NY – Local social justice activists have resumed their scrutiny of local courts with a new focus.
Members of Citizen Action, the Broome-Tioga NAACP, JUST, Truth Pharm and PLOT are organizing a Court Watch for the second year.
Roughly 40 volunteers will be observing proceeding at Broome County Court and taking notes on how each case is handled.
The observers document what sentences defendants receive and make note of their race and ethnicity.
Emilie Prudent of Citizen Action’s Demand Justice Campaign says this year, they’ll be looking to see whether the state’s new cashless bail reforms are being implemented properly.
“It does help people who are less fortunate than others, people who get arrested for shoplifting or little things and they have to post cash bail. Not everyone has it. So, that’s what the bail reform is here to help people with,” said Prudent.
Prudent stresses that the reforms only eliminated cash bail for non-violent crimes.
And Citizen Action says people who could afford to pay bail have always been able to get out of jail pending trial for these same crimes.
The group plans to monitor county court on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and hopes to add city court with the addition of student volunteers once Binghamton University is back in session.