Founded in response to lenient sentencing in sexual assault cases and ineffective treatment for offenders, the WATCH project monitors domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking hearings, holds the system accountable for its actions and advocates for improvements in judicial policy and practice.

Court Monitoring

1. The WATCH project monitors over 20,000 hearings annually of violence against women and children in Hennepin, Ramsey and Washington county courts.

2. The Advocates uses these day-to-day observations to document problem patterns, inform the public and advocate for improvement in the courts.

3. Monitoring tells everyone in the criminal justice system that the public cares and supports their efforts to curb violence against women and children.

Judicial Policy and Training

1. The WATCH project produces periodic, research-based, judicial policy reports recommending improvement in the criminal justice system as it relates to violence against women and children. Significant changes spearheaded by WATCH in the past include:

  • Opening CHIPS (Children in Need of Protection or Services) cases.

  • Creating a designated Domestic Violence Court

  • Instituting consistent prosecution and sentencing standards for urban and suburban courts.

2. WATCH provides regular feedback and training for judges.