Juries not as racially diverse as the communities from which they are drawn

December 3, 2008

A new review of the literature in the journal Social Issues and Policy Review examines obstacles that prevent diversity on juries and the implications this has on jury performance. Results reveal that there are a wide range of factors that conspire to prevent juries from being as racially diverse as the communities they represent.

Samuel R. Sommers, Ph.D., of the Department of Psychology at Tufts University shows how racial bias in the legal system is not an outdated or obsolete concern, and race still influences many processes.

In his article, Sommers notes how a county in the U.S. has a sizeable number of African-American citizens. Across various trials, not a single jury had enough black jurors to indicate a jury composition representative of the more general racial demographics. The facts describe Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, just prior to Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Various reasons exist why juries are often less diverse than the surrounding communities. Members of racial minority groups are often relatively underrepresented when it comes to driver's licenses and voter registration, both of which are lists often used to select people for jury duty.

Even when a diverse group of people shows up for jury duty, lawyers often consider race in deciding whom to challenge during jury selection. Prosecutors are often inclined to remove minority jurors from the panel because of expectations that such individuals are less likely to vote guilty in a case, even though the U.S. Supreme Court prohibits them from excluding jurors based on race.

Source: Wiley

Explore further: Researchers modify yeast to show how plants respond to a key hormone

Related Stories

Can racial injustice be settled out of court?

January 13, 2015

2014 was replete with social unrest to protest police brutality and racial inequality. With many calling for policy reform to improve race problems in the U.S. criminal justice system, new research suggests that the issue ...

Recommended for you

Amber specimen offers rare glimpse of feathered dinosaur tail

December 8, 2016

Researchers have discovered a dinosaur tail complete with its feathers trapped in a piece of amber. The finding reported in Current Biology on December 8 helps to fill in details of the dinosaurs' feather structure and evolution, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.