Volume 57

Banned from the Jury Box: Examining the Justifications and Repercussions of Felon Jury Exclusion in the District of Columbia

by Ashley Alexander

“The most heartrending deprivation of all is the inequality of status that excludes people from full membership in the community, degrading them by labeling them as outsiders, denying them their very selves.” Felon exclusion from the jury box has been minimally studied, and the laws mandating it have remained mostly static. Meanwhile, a robust catalogue of scholarship has been dedicated to discussing felon exclusion from the ballot box (felon disenfranchisement) as well as the other political, social, and economic deprivations felons experience post-conviction (collateral consequences). With the advent of progressive legislation seeking to further expand felon voting rights, the District of Columbia must consider eliminating its ten-year per se ban of felons from serving on juries. The prevailing justifications for excluding felons from juries—that felons harbor an inherent anti-government bias and lack probity—are misguided and unresolved by a per se ban, even if doing so is constitutional and within a court’s authority.

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