Three volunteer court watchers listening to a presentation at a training session

PMC Watches™ and Bailwatch™ Court Watching

PMC Watches

Through PMC Watches™, citizen court watchers are trained to observe, record and offer recommendations on court proceedings. It serves as a means of data collection, provides an opportunity for community members to gather firsthand insight into how justice is administered, and maintains the transparency of the court by having volunteers present during proceedings.

Philadelphia Bail Watch

Philadelphia Bail Watch™ is the extension of PMC Watches™ that operates in preliminary arraignment in Philadelphia. It was launched in April of 2018, in collaboration with the Philadelphia Bail Fund, was put on Hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, and restarted in June of 2021.
The three major goals of Philadelphia Bail Watch™ are:

  • 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.
  • Monitor the current preliminary arraignment process to track the impact of reforms and current statutes.
  • Collect and share people's perceptions of Philadelphia's preliminary arraignment process in order to use this information to advocate for improvements.

Collection of this tracking and information will be used to construct a report outlining efficacy of current bail reforms, as while as recommendations for further improvements to be made to the preliminary arraignment hearing process.

2018 Report

In October 2018, PMC and the Philadelphia Bail Fund released a report and recommendations, which synthesized the feedback of more than 75 volunteers who observed over 600 bail hearings between April 19, 2018 and August 31, 2018. The report also outlined recommendations for developing a more humane and dignified pretrial process. The report can be accessed through the link below.


If you are interested in becoming a volunteer court watcher or would like more information, please contact our Community Program & Analyst Coordinator, Anniyah Shelton, at

Pittsburgh and Greater PA

PMC is expanding our Preliminary Arraignment observations into Pittsburgh. For more information or if you would like to volunteer, please contact our Pittsburgh Community Legal Information Program Coordinator, Leah Simpson, at