Blacks Still Widely Excluded from Southern Juries
Prosecutors in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee still practice the unchecked, widespread exclusion of blacks and other minority jurors, which fuels the denial of justice to black defendants and victims.
Racially diverse juries deliberate longer, consider a wider variety of perspectives and make fewer factual errors than all-white juries, according to a recent study reported by the The New York Times. Predominantly black juries are also less likely to impose the death penalty.
However, in Alabama, courts have found racially discriminatory jury selection in 25 death penalty cases since 1987, and there are counties where more than 75 percent of black jury pool members have been struck in death penalty cases.
“There’s just this tolerance, there’s indifference to excluding people on the basis of race, and prosecutors are doing it with impunity,” said Bryan A. Stevenson, the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, which published the study on jury discrimination.
“Unless you’re in the courtroom, unless you’re a lawyer working on these issues, you’re not going to know whether your local prosecutor consistently bars people of color.”