My Time as an Anti-Carceral Juror
I got my first jury duty summons the week after my dad died and quickly exempted myself. It wasn’t until I got my second summons that I remembered I hadn’t actually exempted myself, but only postponed the date of service. By that point, I had graduated college, but I was still living in my college town, working as a receptionist at a hair salon. I tried explaining this over the phone to a clerk – how I didn’t live in the hometown to which I was being summoned, how I would have to miss at least one extra day of work on either side of jury duty to make the drive home – but still I was summoned. My hometown was my hometown until my driver’s license said otherwise, the kind of fictional truth on which states are sustained. Like Mary and Joseph (it was December), I went home to be counted.
It was assumed, of course, that I would not be part of an actual jury. Numerically, the odds are against it and I’m young and my politics are anti-carceral. Not that I would have said that – if I was going to be there, I would at least try to get on a jury and nullify – but still. These were the weeks after Eric Garner’s killer was not indicted, which were of course the weeks after Michael Brown’s killer had not been indicted. On at least three nights the week before, I had marched and chanted, protesting – among other things – juries themselves.