About Us

Court Watch of Dutchess County is an initiative of the Poughkeepsie, NY, Chapter of End the New Jim Crow Action Network (ENJAN, pronounced “engine”). ENJAN is an advocacy group committed to ending mass incarceration and other abuses of the criminal justice system. ENJAN’s Court Watch program, modeled after Court Watch NYC, gathers and publishes timely data on bail, pre-trial detention, convictions, and sentencing practices in criminal courts in Dutchess County, NY.

Our Mission

As Dutchess County embarks on an expensive project to double the size of its county jail, Court Watch of Dutchess County aims to study the practice of mass incarceration as it plays out in local criminal courtrooms. By providing community residents with timely and accessible information about Dutchess County court proceedings and outcomes, we seek to foster greater public accountability from the criminal justice system.

Our Goals

  • Gather and publish information on the practices of various institutional actors—judges, district attorneys, public defenders, probation officials, etc—in the court system.

  • Determine whether biases pertaining to race, gender, language ability, socioeconomic status, and other social markers affect decisions about bail, pre-trial detention, plea deals, and sentencing.

  • Increase the participation of local residents in fighting mass incarceration by providing a forum for first-hand observation of court proceedings.

  • Promote community knowledge and engagement by disseminating data about the behavior of elected and appointed officials in our local criminal justice system.

Our Principles and Values

  • The presumption of innocence.

  • The right of defendants to see the evidence against them.

  • The First Amendment right of public access to court proceedings.

  • The Sixth Amendment right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury.

  • A criminal justice system that treats all defendants fairly and with dignity, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, citizenship status, language ability, or ability to pay for a lawyer.

  • The elimination of pretrial detention and bail for most defendants.

  • Open and informed discussion about the goals and practices of the entire criminal justice system.