Maryland bill seeks to open jury duty to people formerly incarcerated
A Maryland bill under consideration for a fourth time in Annapolis would provide an avenue for people formerly incarcerated for a year or more to serve on juries.
The legislation would also enable people to qualify for jury service who have charges pending that could result in at least a year’s imprisonment, according to a nonpartisan outline of the bill. Sponsors and supporters say it would help people formerly incarcerated better reintegrate into society and make Maryland jury pools more representative.
“The status of a person’s current criminal charges and criminal history does not and should not determine their ability to serve on a jury for the rest of their lives,” state Del. Nicole Williams, the bill’s co-sponsor and a Democrat from Prince George’s County, said during testimony earlier this month.
Shrinking cities like Baltimore are burning through their eligible pools of jurors quickly; last year, 247,840 potential jurors were deemed eligible in Baltimore, less than half its population, according to a Maryland Judiciary spokeswoman. Last year, about 20,000 prospective jurors were summoned on average each month, but more than a third of those didn’t show.
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