Senate Bill 1055 is An Act Establishing a Task Force to Study the Juror Selection Process, Providing Access to Certain Records Possessed by the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, Connecticut Valley Hospital and the Psychiatric Security Review Board, and Concerning Sentencing of Persistent Larceny Offenders and Nonfinancial Conditions for Pretrial Release. The ACLU of Connecticut supports this bill to create more fairness and justice in our criminal justice system.
Our democracy depends on equal protection under the law. People facing criminal charges should face a jury of their peers, but jury pools often do not represent our communities. Nationwide, there is a severe lack of representation of people of color on juries. Though discriminating against a member of a jury pool based on their race is against the law, prosecutors have the ability to strike a certain number of jurors without stating a reason as part of jury selection. In order for juries to be representative of their communities, the jury pools they are drawn from must also be representative of those communities. In order to legislate a solution to this problem, a study must be conducted on the juror selection process. We must acquire data both on who is being summoned and who is appearing for jury duty to ensure that all Connecticut juries are representative of their communities. Studies have shown that prosecutors tend to strike jurors of color more often. A 2015 study of prosecutor strikes in a Louisiana city “found that prosecutors struck Black jurors at two to three times the rates of other jurors.”1 Another study in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of capital cases found that “prosecutors struck Black jurors at twice the rates as other jurors.” Unfortunately, this kind of discrimination happens across the country and in Connecticut. It capitalis