Thursday, June 3, 2010

Blacks Stricken From Juries in Southern States

Mara Gayby Mara Gay

Black Americans are being stricken from Southern juries -- especially in cases of capital punishment -- because they live in poor neighborhoods, chew gum or are thought to have "low intelligence," according to a new report.

The two-year study published today by the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative found "shocking evidence of racial discrimination" in jury pool selection across eight Southern states.

"We are undermining the credibility of the entire criminal justice system," Bryan Stevenson, director of the Equal Justice Initiative, told AOL News in a phone interview today.

After studying jury selection pools in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee, the Equal Justice Initiative found that blacks who are legally qualified to serve as jurors are being excluded from jury pools for superficial reasons that violate civil rights law.

In 2004, for example, a potential black juror in Louisiana was removed from the pool because the prosecutor thought he "looked like a drug dealer," the report said. In South Carolina, a prosecutor was allowed to eliminate one black juror because the man reportedly "shucked and jived" as he walked.

No comments: