It is an unfortunate sign of our times that we need to consider new legislation to protect old liberties.
Connecticut’s state legislature is once again debating the merits of decriminalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Yet the most heated arguments have focused largely on the commercialization of marijuana sales. In the meantime, thousands of citizens prosecuted for cannabis possession continue to experience the negative impact of their prior convictions. It makes sense for the legislature to permit the expunging of their criminal records.
A move is afoot to extend the privilege of sitting on a jury to released felons and non-citizen long-term residents. According to a recent report, supported by Connecticut Chief Justice Richard Robinson, making this change would increase Black and Latinx representation. This is a laudatory goal. But it undermines the very foundations of jury participation as a key aspect of citizenship.