They’re just different: the bifurcation of public attitudes toward felon-jurors convicted of violent offenses

James M. Binnall, Nick Petersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Increasingly, criminal justice policies have become bifurcated, categorizing and separating those who commit violent offenses from those who commit non-violent offenses. Such bifurcation is evident in recent reform efforts targeting the civic marginalization of those with a felony conviction and is also characteristic of public opinion toward those convicted of a felony criminal offense. Along those lines, this study examines how felon-jurors’ conviction type shapes public sentiment. Utilizing originally collected survey data from 815 Californians, we examine support for felon-jurors generally and by crime type (violent and non-violent). Results reveal far less support for felon-jurors convicted of violent offenses than for felon-jurors generally and felon-jurors convicted of non-violent offenses. In addition, we find that crime-type concerns vary considerably across ideological groups, with conservatives (and to a lesser extent moderates) being significantly less likely than liberals to support jury service for those convicted of violent crimes. Findings align with prior literature suggesting that the public tends to harbor more punitive views toward those who commit violent offenses, and that these views are especially pronounced among conservatives. As the first survey investigating the intersecting dynamics of crime-type and felon-juror exclusion, this study expands our understanding of public attitudes toward those convicted of a felony criminal offense and their involvement in democratic processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-19
Number of pages17
JournalCrime, Law and Social Change
Volume75
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

Keywords

  • Bifurcation
  • Convicted felons
  • Felon-juror exclusion
  • Public opinion
  • Violent offense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Law

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