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Study shows that all-white juries convict Black defendants 16% more often than White defendants

by Stephanie Lundberg

Researchers at Duke have conducted a study which shows that all-white juries in Florida convict Black defendants 16% more often than White defendants. Furthermore, the study shows that this gap was virtually eliminated when at least one Black member sat on the jury.

During the study, 40% of the jury pools in Florida had no Black members, while most others had one or two. Interestingly, the study also showed that when Blacks were present in the jury pool they were slightly more likely to be seated than Whites.

Excluding a juror on the basis of race is illegal and while no attorneys violated this during the study, it was found to be clear that the “application of criminal justice is ‘highly uneven.’” In short, this study shows that despite the best effort of the courts to eliminate race issues, the ‘luck of the draw’ of jury composition can have a defining effect on the outcome of the case.

"The Impact of Jury Race in Criminal Trials," senior author Patrick Bayer, Duke University; Shamena Anwar, Carnegie Mellon University; Randi Hjalmarsson, Queen Mary, University of London. Quarterly Journal of Economics, online April 17, 2012, print in May 2012; DOI number 0.1093/QJE/QJS014.

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