- A willingness to learn about and engage with your local criminal justice system
- Registering to vote and voting (if you are eligible)
- At least a few minutes a week to keep up with local criminal justice news
Two of the biggest ways that you can help Strengthen the Sixth is by voting and through jury duty.
The general public is in the best position to hold other criminal justice stakeholders accountable for faults in the criminal justice system. In many parts of the country, key members of the other stakeholder groups are chosen at the ballot box: depending on where you live, your local judges, district attorney, chief public defender, sheriff, legislators, and government executives (including governors and mayors) may be elected. This means that you have a say in who fills these important roles, whether you’re voting or running for office yourself.
Furthermore, the public is directly involved in court cases through jury duty. If you meet your local court’s eligibility requirements for jurors, your name may be selected at random to serve on a jury in a criminal trial. This centuries-old process is a key part of making trials fair and verdicts accurate.
Voting and jury duty may only come up once every several months, but staying informed about criminal justice in your community is something you can do everyday. For example, learn who the criminal justice leaders are in your community - such as the judges, district attorney, chief public defender, sheriff, and key policymakers - and look for news on what those stakeholders are doing to address racial justice, bail reform and access to justice. If you can’t find news, email or call their offices and find out. Keeping up with local criminal justice news can help you make informed decisions at the ballot box when criminal justice officials are up for election.
For those who are looking for ways to engage beyond voting, jury duty, and staying informed, there are a number of ways to get involved in improving criminal justice. For example, participate in a court-watching program and help local organizers understand the strengths and weaknesses of your courts. Discover other grassroots efforts in your community that are aimed at making sure rights are upheld for all citizens.
- Avoiding jury duty, including by failing to provide required information for jury service or by not responding to a jury summons
- Spreading false information about criminal justice on social media