Jury Diversity in the Age of Mass Incarceration: An Exploratory Mock Jury Experiment Examining Felon-Jurors' Potential Impacts on Deliberations
Psychology, Crime & Law, Forthcoming
35 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2018 Last revised: 16 Jan 2019
Date Written: September 20, 2018
Today, nineteen million American citizens bear the mark of a felony conviction, far more than in any prior era. With that mark comes a host of record-based restrictions that curtail access to various political, social, and civic institutions. One such restriction impacts convicted felons’ eligibility for jury service. Forty-nine states, the federal government, and the District of Columbia statutorily limit convicted felons’ opportunities to serve as jurors. Justifying these restrictions, lawmakers and courts suggest that convicted felons, if allowed to serve, would diminish the quality of the deliberation process. This exploratory mock jury experiment is the first to assess jury deliberations that include felon-jurors, comparing 1) homogeneous juries comprised entirely of non-felon-jurors to diverse juries comprised of both non-felon and felon-jurors and 2) non-felon-jurors to felon-jurors. Results suggest that on theoretically derived measures of deliberation structure, deliberation content, and juror perceptions, diverse juries performed as well as homogeneous juries. Data also tend to demonstrate few statistically significant differences between felon-jurors and non-felon-jurors. Notably, on measures of novel case facts covered and time spoken as a proportion of deliberation duration, felon-jurors outperformed their non-felon counterparts, perhaps calling into question the purported threat they pose and the necessity of blanket felon-juror exclusion policies.
Keywords: Juror, Jury, Felon, Exclusion, Diversity, Jury Deliberation
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