Using structured deliberation by members of the public to progress policy.
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Citizen juries can help to:
- forge a path towards consensus on controversial or divisive political issues
- build public legitimacy for policy solutions
- provide a structured input into the political process as a 'voice' of citizens
- boost public awareness around a specific issue of concern and boost an informed and engaged citizenry
- drive meaningful engagement and deliver creative solutions.
- Much like a jury in a legal case, a citizen jury will receive background information about the issue, hear expert witnesses and then make a considered 'judgment'.
- A group of randomly selected citizens meet over several day, acting as a microcosm of their community.
- The jury is informed by experts (often referred to as witnesses), who offer different perspectives on the issue based on their expertise. Participants can ‘cross examine’ witnesses.
- The jurors then go through a process of deliberation and subgroups are often formed to focus on different aspects of the issue.
- Finally, the jurors produce a decision or provide recommendations in the form of a citizens’ report.
- The sponsoring body (for example, government department, local authority) is required to respond to the report either by acting on it or by explaining why it disagrees.
- A set of views and recommendations on a policy issue from a group that is representative of the broad community.
- Insights into the public appetite for various solutions.
- Issues are well defined, but a political consensus on the how to tackle the issue is not in place.
- You want to consider value-based questions (citizen juries are less suitable for considering technical questions).
Citizen juries are not well suited to situations in which:
- your agency is not clear about whether it can follow through on the jury’s recommendations
- you want to consult special interest groups – citizen juries are representative rather than targeted
- you don’t have the time or resources required.
Case Study – Citizen Jury on Obesity - Detailed case study from Victoria, Australia 2015.
Citizen Jury on Nuclear Waste - Documentation of the 2016 citizen jury on nuclear waste in South Australia, including jury transcripts, jury reports, videos, information on selection process and more.
The Citizens Jury Process - Detailed article on the concept of citizen juries, with examples from the USA.