The Court Monitoring Project

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The Purpose

To monitor NYPD practices on the ground, to educate our fellow New Yorkers about current police activity and to expose the negative effects of ‘broken windows’ policing on low-income communities throughout the city.

The Project

Through careful observation of New York City’s arraignment and summons courts PROP plans to gain knowledge about current NYPD policies and practices. Through the Court Monitoring Project, PROP will identify the most common types of arrests and summonses being brought to the courts by the NYPD – collecting this information helps us accurately assess the extent to which the de Blasio administration works to reform the NYPD’s unequal and counterproductive practices.

What Is Court Monitoring?

PROP staff, interns and volunteers, sit in on proceedings at different arraignment and summons courts in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx. During the court visits we sit-in on multiple court proceedings and record the relevant information about each case. Our court monitoring also includes speaking with both lawyers and defendants. Hearing from people directly involved in the criminal justice system gives us a better understanding of the repercussions that being charged with a low-level, non-violent offense, can have on a person’s life. 

Read a New York Times article about the Court Monitoring Project.

Anyone interested in joining PROP’s Court Monitoring work is welcome to contact us to discuss details. Court Monitoring schedule is available on our calendar.

The Reports

Using data and stories from its Court Monitoring work, PROP regularly publishes reports about the NYPD’s interactions with New Yorkers and overall practices.

No Equal and Exact Justice – A PROP Court Monitoring Report – In preparing No Equal and Exact Justice, PROP representatives observed and recorded proceedings in 16 NYC arraignment parts involving nearly 530 cases, and interviewed defendants as well as the public defenders who practice in those parts. By identifying the most prevalent types of arrests coming through the criminal justice system and the individuals charged for those infractions, PROP effectively assessed the NYPD’s everyday practices and has concluded that the NYPD continues to engage in an aggressive application of a type of “broken windows” policing that does serious harm to selected communities in our city.

90%: The Harm Continues – A breakdown of 524 cases presented in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Bronx arraignments parts between May and August 2015 showing that 90% of defendants were people of color and 86% walked out of court. Based on information recorded by PROP at each of the cases and including stories of defendants and a list of what they are arrested for.

Broken Windows Policing: A True Tale of Two Cities (a Court Monitoring Project Report) – Our newest report consists of the initial findings from PROP’s Court Monitoring Project, documenting the continuing harmful and biased effects of NYPD’s Broken windows policing. The Court Monitoring Project was developed to independently monitor NYPD practices on the ground. PROP representatives have observed and recorded proceedings in over 20 New York City arraignment and summons parts involving over 750 cases and have interviewed both public defenders that practice in those parts and defendants. By identifying the most prevalent types of arrests and summonses coming through the criminal justice system and who is charged for those infractions, PROP has effectively assessed the NYPD’s everyday practices and concluded that they continue to entail aggressive application of a kind of “broken windows” policing that does serious harm to selected communities in our city.

Photograph by James Estrin/The New York Times.