Racial Profiling and Jury Trials
The Jury Expert 21.1. Jan 2009, 20-35 (special debate on racial profiling)
16 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2015
Date Written: February 4, 2015
How should trial experts approach cases of racial profiling? As a British philosopher, albeit one who has lived and worked in the States, all I can offer are some suggestions and some questions to help readers make the most of their expertise. These are motivated by two concerns. First, from a British perspective, American jury selection is alien to our understanding of the ideal that people are tried by ‘a jury of their peers’. In particular, the American practice of selective strikes raises the worry that you cannot consistently ask jurors to evaluate the use of race-based expectations by police when the jury selection process, itself, is shaped by the idea that race is a good predictor of people’s beliefs and behaviour. The second concern is an extension and generalisation of the first, and exemplifies the problems posed by racial profiling: what does it mean to treat people as equals in a world where people are disadvantaged because of their race? I will take these concerns in reverse order, briefly say something about them, and then suggest some approaches to racial profiling that, I hope, will be of practical, as well as theoretical, use.
Keywords: racial profiling, jury trials, America, Mathias Risse, inequality, discrimination, freedom, privacy, selective strikes, participation, descriptive representation, police, 'the face of crime'
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