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Is Jury Selection Fair?: Perceptions of Race and the Jury Selection Process

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society Volume: 20 Issue: 4 Dated: December 2007 Pages: 445-468
Karen McGuffee; Tammy S. Garland; Helen Eigenberg
Date Published
December 2007
24 pages
This study explored jurors perceptions of whether the jury system is fair, and more specifically, the role, if any, race plays in perceptions of jury selection.
The study failed to find sufficient evidence that jurors believed that racial bias had an impact upon their ability to serve on juries, and failed to establish a relationship between views about racial representation on juries and system fairness. It did, however, find that a significant minority of jurors questioned the racial neutrality of the system, which in turn decreased perception of system fairness. In general, respondents indicated a great deal of faith in the jury system, and the overwhelming majority of respondents, 92 percent, believed that most jury verdicts were correct, and 96 percent of the respondents believed the juries try hard to do the right thing. Respondents were slightly less apt to believe that the justice system was fair, although most respondents, 83 percent, found the system equitable. Respondents, on the whole, found the system more fair than unfair. The respondents reported more conflicting attitudes about whether or not the criminal justice system and the jury process was race neutral. Over half of the respondents, 52 percent, agreed that it was important for African-Americans to have African-Americans on the jury in order to get a fair trial. Respondents were slightly less apt to believe that racial composition of the jury is important for Whites; 42 percent of the respondents reported that it is important for Whites to have other Whites on the jury to get a fair trial. About one-fourth, or 26 percent, of the respondents believed that African-Americans were more likely to be dismissed from jury duty than were Whites. About 18 percent of the respondents believed that Whites were more apt to convict than minorities. Only 7 percent of the respondents believed that Whites were more fair in jury decisions than minorities. Tables, figure, notes, references


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