The practice of excluding blacks and other minorities from Southern juries remains widespread and, according to defense lawyers and a new study by the Equal Justice Initiative, a nonprofit human rights and legal services organization in Montgomery, Al., largely unchecked, the New York Times reports.
The organization studied eight Southern states – Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – and found areas in all where significant problems persist. In Alabama, courts have found racially discriminatory jury selection in 25 death penalty cases since 1987, and there are counties where more than 75 percent of black jury pool members have been struck in death penalty cases. An analysis of Jefferson Parish, La., by the Louisiana Capital Assistance Center. found that from 1999 to 2007, blacks were struck from juries at more than three times the rate of whites. In South Carolina, a prosecutor said he struck a black potential juror because he “shucked and jived” when he walked.