A Duke University study released today has found that black defendants who face all-white juries in the U.S. are more likely to be convicted of the charges leveled against them, according to a report at Mother Jones magazine's "MoJo" blog. The study found that a single black juror, however, can significantly alter that outcome.
The study found that in Florida black defendants were found guilty 81 percent of the time by all-white juries, whereas white defendants were found guilty 66 percent of the time. "MoJo" reports that even a single black juror on a panel renders the convictions rates virtually equal, at 71 percent for black defendants and 73 for whites facing similar charges.
Patrick Bayer, a senior author of the study and chairman of Duke's economics department said that the evidence is clear of a racial component in sentencing in the United States.
"Our Sixth Amendment right to a trial by a fair and impartial jury of our peers is a bedrock of the criminal justice system in the U.S.," he said, "and yet, despite the importance of that right, there's been very little systematic analysis of how the composition of juries actually affects trial outcomes, how the rules that we have in place for selecting juries impact those outcomes."
The portrait of our justice system that is painted by the study demonstrates that a "highly uneven" standard of fairness is being applied across the board with regards to race, Bayer said.
The findings of the study, he said, indicate that a great deal more analysis is needed, as well as a higher standard of transparency throughout the criminal justice system.
"Simply put, the luck of the draw on the racial composition of the jury pool has a lot to do with whether someone is convicted and that raises obvious concerns about the fairness of our criminal justice system."
Bayer discusses the study and its findings in the video, embedded via YouTube, below:
(image via Shutterstock)