Jeanne Bedard ‘22 Interview

Jeanne Bedard ‘22, a Wheaton first-year student, recently had her written policy (regarding discrimination in jury selection in Massachusetts) published onto the online journal, Ten Ideas. I sat down with Bedard to discuss her significant accomplishment and the process she went through to achieve it.  

Jeanne Bedard. Photo by Caroline Chaffiotte.

Q: What inspired you to join Roosevelt?

A: It just kind of happened. I was encouraged by the executive board to consider writing a policy piece (a two-page piece explaining a societal issue and an original idea to solve it) to submit to Roosevelt’s national journal, 10 Ideas. So I came up with an idea to publicly report the diversity of juries, which would illuminate the widespread use of discriminatory jury selection practices. After I spent the month of Nov. writing my policy idea, Roosevelt asked me to join.

Q: What position do you hold on the executive board?

A: My formal title is Treasurer, but all nine of us work together on Roosevelt’s various projects throughout the year.

Q: How did you come up with the policy topic of jury selection?

A: I had heard a podcast and watched a Vox video about loopholes within the jury selection process in America. There is a loophole that allows prosecutors to legally remove any undesirable jurors (oftentimes: people of color and women) from the pool of potential jurors without ever stating a reason. Through more research, I realized that publicly reporting the demographics of four groups of people could help illuminate the issue. The statement would include: the whole group of potential jurors called into jury duty, the jurors removed with states reason, the jurors removed without stated reason using peremptory strikes, and the final jury. With this data publicly available, people would be able to compare it to census data and asses how disproportionate juries are to the average population.

Q: What process did you go through to get your policy published?

A: Roosevelt at Wheaton helped me a lot with following the specific format that a “10 ideas” submission has to align with. Then, I looked at a lot of reports and accounts of discriminatory jury selection practices. Roosevelt at Wheaton helped me with any bumps along the road in the writing process and assisted with revisions.

Q: What’s next for your policy after online publication?

A: Even though my policy is being published, I see it as something that still has a lot of room to evolve. I want to reach out to people who have direct experience with discriminatory jury selection and the American criminal justice system. I’m hoping that this outreach can make the idea more feasible, effective, and realistic.

Q: How do you think this experience is going to shape your future work?

A: The experience of writing a policy idea has helped me better understand how to write about complex ideas in a way that is easy for people outside of academia to understand. The experience also reminded me that when writing about real life solutions to real life issues, it’s important to read existing research and listen to the experiences of people who are most affected by the issue.

Q: How do you think Roosevelt is beneficial to college students interested in politics?

A: Roosevelt, as a national network of campus chapters, emphasizes the phenomenon that who writes the rules matters. This means that our generation of young people interested in politics or problem-solving, are the same people who can write the policies that solve today’s issues. So basically, Roosevelt helps young people brainstorm and implement ideas that can shape a better future.