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The Truth About The US Jury System

Guilty or not guilty. This is how Americans have helped keep crime in check for two and half centuries. But the US jury system isn’t perfect.

For instance, it wasn’t until 1968 that women were allowed to serve on juries in all 50 states. And while it’s been illegal to exclude African Americans from jury duty for more than 135 years …… they remain dramatically underrepresented, even today.

Each year, over 30 million people are sent a summons in the mail. From that, an estimated 1.5 million are selected to serve on a jury. And it’s during that selection process when most of the problems emerge. Attorneys have a certain number of “strikes”, or peremptory challenges, where they can remove jury candidates without any explanation. For decades, it was perfectly legal to use these strikes on a discriminatory basis — and that’s exactly what prosecutors did.


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