Opinion: A jury pool's race can deny justice

Even the inclusion of one black person in the jury pool had a large impact on conviction rates of black people, according to the authors' study.

Editor's note: Shamena Anwar is an assistant professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University; Patrick Bayer is a professor of economics at Duke University; and Randi Hjalmarsson is an associate professor in economics at Queen Mary, University of London.

By Shamena Anwar, Patrick Bayer and Randi Hjalmarsson, Special to CNN
(CNN) -- The Sixth Amendment right to a trial by an impartial jury is the bedrock of our criminal justice system. Yet the promise of impartiality is called into question when defendants face juries that include few, if any, members of their race.
The small percentage of black people in the U.S. population, less than 13%, and in some cases, their systematic exclusion from juries, means that black defendants routinely face all-white juries in many states and counties.
    Concerns about jury representation go hand-in-hand with the sense that the racial makeup of juries might make a big difference for conviction rates in criminal trials. Surprisingly, we know very little about this.