Everyday, in county courts across the state, decisions are made that dictate the size, scope, and demographic make-up of incarceration in California. It is at first court appearance where one of the most important decisions is made — whether someone will be released while going through the court process or asked to pay bail for their freedom. Because bail amounts are often impossible to reach for many, over 60% of our county jail beds in California are occupied by those who haven’t been convicted of a crime, but rather are there simply because they could not afford the bail amount. Due to recent legislation, money bail will be ending in California, but judges will have more power to detain people under this new pretrial process. We believe it is critical to know what is happening in courts across the state on a daily basis to know how the system is impacting the community, and to identify how the community can impact the system -- particularly as changes in bail law are ushered in.
On this regularly updated platform -- through stories and videos by local community members who have personally experienced the broken money bail system, data collection, and real time reports from being in courtrooms -- we share what goes on in local courts on any given day. Informed by grassroots organizers, Day in CA Court also serves as a window to see how counties across California are responding to historic changes in bail law. We call this site a running public diary of the California courts.