Jury shortage in Dougherty County--why it costs you

The longer it takes to select a jury, the longer inmates stay behind bars at taxpayer's expense / Ashley Knight

The next time you receive a jury summons, you might want to consider going instead of trying to dodge it.

"There is a jury commission that selects those persons that will be in the jury pool. The jury commission will then submit that information to the clerk, those persons will be notified," said District Attorney Greg Edwards.

But not all respond to the call of duty. District Attorney Greg Edwards says ours is a system that should be respected.

"This is the fundamental thing about our judicial system. It's the most fair and most involved criminal justice system in the world. Nobody else in the world gets a chance to serve on the jury but American citizens," says Edwards.

The system punishes those who are guilty and protects the innocent. However, none of that would happen without a jury. And right now, Dougherty County seems to be in a jury shortage.

"A defendant has a right to a trial by jury and the crux of that is 12 impartial jurors honestly seeking the truth," said .

Often, just 40 people are needed for a jury pool. However, for some cases, it's imperative for the jury commission to cast a wide net.

"If you have a smaller jury pool, then there are more instances of people that might have direct contact with the case by some means or another," says Edwards.

"There may be some people who remember certain incidents or the news stories regarding that case, so there are a lot of factors that go into it," said Marshall.

The longer it takes for them to choose a jury, the longer inmates stay behind bars and the longer inmates stay behind bars, the more money is taken from your pocket.

"It causes a delay in the start of a trial, which of course keeps the people in jail longer and therefore costs the taxpayer more money," says Captain Craig Dodd with the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

An average of $40 a day. And your wallet can be hit in other ways.

"You can be fined, you can be jailed and that something that certainly the judges don't want to do," says Edwards.

All the more reason to answer the call and support the court system.