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About PHilADELPHIA Bail Watch

The Philadelphia Bail Fund and Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts developed Philadelphia Bail Watch in April 2018 in order to shine a light on the current preliminary arraignment process, where money bail decisions are made and, ultimately, people’s access to freedom pretrial is determined. Did you know that most defendants in Philadelphia do not get to meet with an attorney before their bail hearings (preliminary arraignments)? Or that bail hearings often last less than two minutes?

Philadelphia Bail Watch exists to:

  1. Invite the public and interested stakeholders to watch Philadelphia’s preliminary arraignment hearing process and learn about its implications for bail policy and pretrial detention;

  2. Monitor the current preliminary arraignment process and impact of the District Attorney’s recent bail reform efforts; and

  3. Collect and share people’s perceptions of Philadelphia’s preliminary arraignment process to advocate for improvements.

Through Philadelphia Bail Watch, court watch volunteers gather information and share their impressions of bail hearings. By having community members present at bail hearings and fighting for greater fairness and transparency, we hope to improve the preliminary arraignment process and advocate for bail reform in Philadelphia.


Volunteer to attend bail hearings and share your impressions by signing up here

Please contact us at if you are part of an organization that would like to learn more about Philadelphia Bail Watch, receive a training and recruit volunteers to attend bail hearings.

Did you already attend bail hearings? Fill out our reflections form online. 

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Read reflections from Philadelphia Bail Watch volunteers here. 

Read our October 15, 2018 Philadelphia Bail Watch report with findings and recommendations here.