If a process yields discrimination, then we need to examine the process.
October 11, 2014 1:49 PM   Subscribe

Bias in the Box. "This is where Bryan Stevenson’s 'undeveloped understanding' comes into focus. A prosecutor may say with the utmost sincerity that he doesn’t exclude blacks [from a jury] because of their race, but because they or someone in their family has been a victim of discrimination, which leads them to distrust the system. Because of their experiences, they are believed to be less motivated to sentence someone to die and are therefore less desirable on a jury." (slVQR)

Broken into pages at The Investigative Fund.
posted by Rustic Etruscan (7 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
I'm only a third of the way through the article, but this is great stuff, Rustic Etruscan.

One of the great things about MetaFilter is the appreciation for evidence-based examination of societal problems where bias exists but can be hard to make visible and hard to quantify. This is a great example of that.

Thanks for posting it.
posted by kristi at 3:44 PM on October 11, 2014

Iredell County still maintains an active Ku Klux Klan chapter

There is still an active Ku Klux Klan chapter in Iredell County.

Re juries, according to one NC study, "When the jury pool included at least one black person, the conviction rates were nearly identical: 71 percent for black defendants, 73 percent for whites."

Just from curiosity, I'd be interested in statistics of conviction rates with all black juries, or majority black with a token white. Seems to be a lot of conflicting material out there, much of it outdated, much of it I suspect contentious.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:15 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

Great article.

More than three decades of research have shown that capital juries tend to be less representative of the general population because women and African Americans are more likely to disapprove of the death penalty than white men.

Reading that, it reminds me of the "white male effect" in risk perception. From the abstract of this article:
Risks tend to be judged lower by men than by women and by white people than by people of colour. Prior research ... found that these race and gender differences in risk perception in the United States were primarily due to 30% of the white male population who judge risks to be extremely low. The specificity of this finding suggests an explanation in terms of sociopolitical factors rather than biological factors.
I wonder if there's the same 30% population skewing things or if it's white males overall who are more approving of the death penalty.
posted by rmd1023 at 4:37 PM on October 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

This article draws a lot of connections for me about hanging juries and race that I've long intuited were the case but had no evidence to prove. I'm going to be chewing on this for a while.

Also this:
North Carolina’s Racial Justice Act could have targeted these gross discrepancies. Taken to its logical next step, it could have spread beyond capital trials and into all of the lower-stakes cases that take up the bulk of the time in courts across the country, helping to feed our bloated prisons. It could have tackled mass incarceration on the front end.
posted by immlass at 6:08 PM on October 11, 2014

Is there a word for the way one feels when you keep trying to read through an article on the Internet and you realize that you keep skimming, not because it's poorly written or anything but because it's the same old shit and you slow down again and try to take in details but your mind keeps going toward pretty simple and concrete reforms that could be accomplished in theory but you're not sure how this society is realistically going to get from here to there....

I think the word is "despair".

but, on second thought, the word might be "hope" after all.
posted by tivalasvegas at 9:46 PM on October 11, 2014 [2 favorites]

Yesterday, I read about the death of a 17 year old black boy in North Carolina. That is beginning to look more and more like a possible lynching.

Yes, lynching. In 2014.

I had to read about it in The Guardian because it is not mentioned in any of the US major news outlets.

What the hell is going on?
posted by jeanmari at 4:30 AM on October 12, 2014 [1 favorite]

Voir dire, in particular, is some interesting stuff, especially when it comes to groups who, because of their ethnicity or profession or other personal details, will wind up never serving on a jury. But the article itself notes that the bias is likely /true/ - prosecutors remove black jurors, but black jurors are in fact less likely to convict for the death penalty - which means their removal, though discriminatory, serves the prosecutor's interests. The entire concept of voir dire is discriminatory by design.
posted by corb at 6:14 AM on October 13, 2014

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