Summonsing Criminal Desistance: Convicted Felons' Perspectives on Jury Service
Law & Social Inquiry 43(1): 4-27 (2017)
58 Pages Posted: 17 Aug 2018
Date Written: September 13, 2017
This exploratory study is the first to examine how convicted felons view the jury process and their role in that process. Data derived from interviews with former and prospective felon-jurors in Maine, the only US jurisdiction that does not restrict a convicted felon’s opportunity to serve as a juror, reveal that participants displayed an idealized view of jury service, stressing a commitment to serve conscientiously. Additionally, inclusion in the jury process affirmed their transitions from “offenders” to “non-offenders.” In response, participants exhibited a sense of particularized self-worth, emphasizing that negative experiences with the criminal justice system make one a more effective juror. In sum, this study suggests that among convicted felons, inclusion in the jury process may prompt conformity with the “ideal juror” role, facilitate prosocial identity shifts by mitigating the “felon” label, and help former offenders to find personal value.
Keywords: Convicted Felon, Juror, Jury service, Criminal Desistance, Reintegration
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