No isht Sherlock
Juries formed from all-white jury pools in Florida convicted black defendants 16 percent more often than white defendants, a gap that was nearly eliminated when at least one member of the jury pool was black, according to a Duke University-led study.
The researchers examined more than 700 non-capital felony criminal cases in Sarasota and Lake counties from 2000-2010 and looked at the effects of the age, race and gender of jury pools on conviction rates.
The jury pool typically consisted of 27 members selected from eligible residents in the two counties. From this group, attorneys chose six seated jurors plus alternates.
“I think this is the first strong and convincing evidence that the racial composition of the jury pool actually has a major effect on trial outcomes,” said senior author Patrick Bayer, chairman of Duke’s Economics Department.
“Our Sixth Amendment right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury of our peers is a bedrock of the criminal justice system in the U.S., and yet, despite the importance of that right, there’s been very little systematic analysis of how the composition of juries actually affects trial outcomes, how the rules that we have in place for selecting juries impact those outcomes,” Bayer said.
Some of the more interesting findings in this story are as follows:
– In cases with no blacks in the jury pool, blacks were convicted 81 percent of the time, and whites were convicted 66 percent of the time. The estimated difference in conviction rates rises to 16 percent when the authors controlled for the age and gender of the jury and the year and county in which the trial took place.
– When the jury pool included at least one black person, the conviction rates were nearly identical: 71 percent for black defendants, 73 percent for whites.
– About 40 percent of the jury pools they examined had no black members and most of the others had one or two black members.
– When blacks were in the jury pool, they were slightly more likely to be seated on a jury than whites. The eligible jury population in these counties was less than 5 percent black.
Does any of this information surprise you at all? We’re more surprised that Duke University, a predominantly white school, did this study. But maybe that lends the research more credibility…
Image via Change.org