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August 22, 2018

"Felon-Jurors in Vacationland: A Field Study of Transformative Civic Engagement in Maine"

The title of this post is the title of this new article authored by James Binnall. Here is the abstract:

Maine is the only jurisdiction in the United States that places no limitations on a convicted felon’s juror eligibility.  Instead, Maine screens prospective felon-jurors using their normal jury selection procedures. In recent years, scholars have suggested that meaningful community engagement can help facilitate former offenders’ reintegration and criminal desistance.  From that theoretical posture, a number of empirical studies have explored the connection between participation in the electorate and the reentry of former offenders. Those studies suggest that voting has the potential to prompt pro-social changes among former offenders.  Still, to date, no research has focused on jury service as a form of civic inclusion that may foster successful reintegration and criminal desistance.

Drawing on data derived from a large-scale field study in Maine, the present article addresses this research void, arguing that the jury is perfectly positioned as a tool for change, employable by jurisdictions seeking to facilitate the successful reentry of former offenders.  This article further notes that Maine is the only U.S. jurisdiction that has exploited this transformative power of the jury process. 

August 22, 2018 at 09:53 PM | Permalink


For better or worse, our justice system is concerned about jurors bringing in their own "expertise" into the jury room. In a medical malpractice case, the chance of a doctor or nurse serving on the jury is practically none. Many states automatically disqualify lawyers from jury service for fear that the lawyer will be in a position to override the court's instructions when they get into the jury room. I can see a similar concern with felons -- particularly in criminal cases -- the fear that the felon will serve as an expert back in the jury room on how charging, investigations, parole, plea bargains, etc. work. I am not sure, however, that the concern translates into civil cases. Perhaps, states could make felons eligible for service on civil jurors while maintaining the disqualification for criminal cases.

Posted by: tmm | Aug 23, 2018 10:30:35 AM

In my opinion: Felons who have served the time required of them and are out of prison, would make good Jurors. Many were innocent to begin with and many have learned from time served who and what to believe from others. They also know the importance of evidence.

Posted by: LC in Texas | Aug 23, 2018 5:10:19 PM

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