If you are a black defendant, hold out for a jury with at least one black member. An all-white jury is much more likely to convict you. If you are a white criminal, your odds of evading punishment improve if there are no black members of the jury.
That is the conclusion of a new study led by Duke University researchers. As shown in the infographic below, a black defendant whose case is heard before an all-white jury has an 81% chance of being convicted. A white defendant appearing before a similar jury will be convicted 66% of the time.
Add one black juror, and watch how the odds change. A black defendant’s chance of being convicted drops to 71%, while a white’s increases to 73%.
The researchers focused on 700 trials in Florida’s Sarasota and Lake Counties, between 2000 and 2010. While this study deals only with felony trials, the implications reach beyond the court system.
Racism on juries does not exist in isolation. It is a cultural reflection. The presidential race is a telling example. Barack Obama has been bombarded with thinly disguised (and not always disguised) racist attacks from the moment of his election. The Arizona law requiring anyone to show their documents, for the “offense” of appearing non-white, is another example.
The Duke University study is a wake-up call. It puts numbers to racism. The racist divide is old, unhealthy thinking. It is time to let go of the color line.
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