“Our resources are misspent, our punishments too severe, our sentences too long.” Justice Kennedy

While we continue to support Sean Ellis, a victim of police corruption and prosecutorial misconduct. His mis-imprisonment represents a much larger endemic societal problems. In a recent study from Harvard “The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials” The Quarterly Journal of Economics (2012) 127 (2): 1017-1055. doi: 10.1093/qje/qjs014. The study relied on, upon the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a data set of felony trials in Florida between 2000 and 2010. Finding that by using a research design that exploits day-to-day variation in the composition of the jury pool to isolate quasi-random variation in the composition of the seated jury, finding evidence that (i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants, and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member. The impact of jury race is much greater than what a simple correlation of the race of the seated jury and conviction rates would suggest. These findings imply that the application of justice is highly uneven and raise obvious concerns about the fairness of trials in jurisdictions with a small proportion of blacks in the jury pool.

Another immediate implication of the studies findings is that the application of criminal justice in these Florida counties is highly uneven, as a small change in the composition of the jury pool  has a large impact on the conviction rates of black versus white defendants. Simply put, after reviewing the sum of jury statistics, analyzing factors of age race and gender the placing of one black juror in a sitting jury, significantly improves the defense of a black criminal defendant.   

FIGURE II

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *