Citizens Jury Process

Democracy can be reformed in many ways to produce better policy and better informed citizens. E.g., see my earlier post on sortition: Sortition: A Surprising Curb on Political Greed.

The Jefferson Center advocates and supports the implementation of citizens juries. These forums are also called policy juries or policy commissions or citizens commissions. For earlier commentary on the concept see Political reform: sortition and policy juries. Here’s a brief introduction:

The Citizens Jury process is a comprehensive tool that allows decision-makers and the public to hear thoughtful citizen input. The great advantage of the Citizens Jury process is that it yields citizen input from a group that is both informed about an issue and a microcosm of the public.

Why a Citizens Jury?

Democracy is based on the idea that elected officials and public agencies carry out the will of the people. But the manipulative nature of our election campaigns and the great power of lobbyists make it doubtful that government policy is based upon the wishes of a well-informed and engaged public. Public opinion polls can tell what people quickly think in response to telephoned survey questions. The actual “will of the people” may be something quite different.

A Citizens Jury provides the opportunity for citizens to learn about an issue, deliberate together and develop well-informed, common-ground solutions to difficult public issues. The Citizens Jury process also allows decision-makers and the public to discover what people really think once they have heard witnesses and taken a close look at a topic.

In depth at Jefferson Center.