newDemocracy applies 5 clear principles to all of our work
Governments inevitably hear from the noisiest voices who insist on being heard. In contrast, society trusts 12 randomly-selected people on a criminal jury to assess evidence, discuss their views and reach a consensus recommendation because random selection generates “people like us”. Our process gets beyond the enraged and the articulate because the public would perceive them as having a bias.
Most policy problems which warrant the investment in a jury will be complex topics, so we need to allow people the time to educate and immerse themselves in the topic. We generally take around six months to deliver the process from beginning to end – as a guide, citizens need at least 40 hours in person, meeting five to six times to meaningfully deliberate and find common ground without feeling pushed toward a pre-ordained outcome.
Neutrality of information is a core principle, and we are careful to alert all juries that all writers have their own bias and perspective and they need to critically analyse this. To counter the view that “you can find an expert to say anything” we focus the start of a process on asking “what do you need to know… and who would you trust to inform you” – and use this as a way of selecting the speakers and input for subsequent jury meetings.
A plain English question, phrased neutrally is essential. This is the most time consuming aspect in finding agreement with a sponsoring government body. Everyday people (not impassioned activists) need to instantly understand the problem to care enough to get involved.
To get everyday people in the room making a considerable time commitment, they need to know that the recommendations they reach mean something and won’t be consumed within the bureaucracy.