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Rock Island among 5 counties working to make more diverse jury pools

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Two judges in Illinois say a new pilot program aimed at ensuring minorities are well represented in local jury pools will be “revolutionary.”

The Journal Star reports that Peoria, Rock Island, St. Clair, Sangamon and Winnebago counties will gather demographics on their jury pools for the next year and then use ZIP codes to make sure they get a diverse group based on population.

Chief Judge Paul Gilfillan says not many communities have such a program for juries.

Tazewell County Judge Steve Kouri, who was chief judge before Gilfillan, says the program is so easy to implement that many people have asked why it hasn’t been done earlier.

Two felony trials within the past year were halted during the jury selection process due to under representation.