Duke University study finds racial disparity in convictions by all-white juries

April 26, 2012

Did you know?, Laws

Duke University study finds racial disparity in convictions by all-white juries

Duke University has released a new study that finds that all-White juries convicted Black defendants significantly more often than when the defendant was White.

This article examines the impact of jury racial composition on trial outcomes using a data set of felony trials in Florida between 2000 and 2010.

The reports conclusion states:

“Given the main findings presented in Section IV and the discussion of potential mechanisms in Section V,we conclude with a discussion of the implications of our results for the fair and equal application of the law. Most plainly, our main findings imply that conviction rates for black and white defendants are similar when there is at least some representation of blacks in the jury pool, but in the absence of such representation, black defendants are substantially more likely to be convicted. Defendants of each race do relatively better when the jury pool contains more members of their own race, and, as a result, black defendants are clearly disadvantaged relative to their white counterparts when the proportion of blacks in the jury pool is so small.”

“A final implication of our analysis follows from the fact that trials with all-white jury pools result in higher conviction rates for black defendants and lower conviction rates for whites relative to jury pools with at least one black potential juror.  This pattern is generally inconsistent with a world in which jurors of each race apply the same standard of evidence for defendants of both races. More specifically, if jurors of each race perceive the evidence presented in a trial identically and apply the same standard of evidence to white and black defendants, it may be possible for jurors of one race to require a higher (lower) standard of evidence to convict and, therefore, convict defendants of both races less (more) often. Importantly, in this case, if jurors are applying the same standards, it is impossible for convictionrates fordefendants of one race torise andthose for defendants of theother racetofall no matter what the distribution of quality of evidence is for defendants of each race (Anwar and Fang 2006). Put another way, if jurors of one race are generally tougher, then they had better be tougher on all defendants or the evidence would suggest that they are not applying the same standards.”

Source: The Quarterly Journal of Economics Advance Access published April 17, 2012
“The Impact of Jury Race In Criminal Trials”, By: Shamena Anwar, Patrick Bayer and Randi Hjalmarsson

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