Eyewitness Identification & Wrongful Conviction Introduction According to Matlin (2013), eyewitness testimonies can be inaccurate for a few reasons including the inability to pick a person from another ethnic group, issues with memory schemas, and being influenced by someone else 's recall of the facts. Therefore, eyewitness testimony is not always the most reliable when faced with trying to place a suspect at the scene of a crime.
Over the past few decades, hundreds of people have been falsely imprisoned. Many of their cases were founded on the account of one or more eyewitnesses. The criminal justice system often relies on eyewitness accounts to piece together a crime and identify the perpetrator. But studies showing the faultiness of our memories, particularly in stressful events, suggest that witnesses may not be as reliable of a source as we think. An often-cited example of when the memory of an eyewitness has failed to serve justice is the case of Ronald Cotton.
The criminal justice system depends majorly on eyewitness identification for investigating and prosecuting crimes. Psychologists have been the only ones who have warned the justice system of problems with eyewitness identification evidence. Recent DNA exoneration cases have corrupted the warnings of eyewitness identification researchers by showing that mistaken eyewitness identification was the largest factor contributing to the conviction of many innocent people eyewitness testimonies are not reliable therefor you would assume they would be taken out of court, but instead
Eye witness identification involves selecting an accused perpetrator from a police line up, sketch or being at the crime scene during the murder time. After selecting a suspect, witnesses are asked to make a formal statement confirming the ID of the suspect (s) or other surrounding details which the eyewitness can testify in court. Eyewitnesses are always required to testify in court but eyewitnesses with psychological disorders, substance dependancy are at a higher chance of identifying the wrong suspect therefore wrongfully assisting convict the perpetrator in the wrong (Hal Arkowitz, Scott O. Lilienfeld, January 1, 2010).
It is unlikely that social consequences of false memories can be avoided. Elizabeth Loftus was intrigued to study false memories, and is perhaps personally responsible for subsequent developments throughout the history of false memories. Some of this history addresses various theories aimed at isolating how or why false memories occur. These include Source Monitoring Framework, Activation Monitoring Theory, Fuzzy Trace Theory, and strategies for persuasion which can lead to the development of false memory. Such persuasion leads to the present discussion concerning how persuasion in the judicial system has created false confessions and wrongful eyewitness testimonies, due to the Misinformation Effect.
The human memory of complex and highly charged events is invariably incomplete. Police officers cannot be expected to encode and retain every one of the countless details that make up a use-of-force incident” (Simon). This will provide officers help to get the facts needed for the case. Therefore, there will be more hard evidence that can also be used in court. In addition, “Human memory is also susceptible to a
This also demonstrates that most individuals have no idea on the potential influence of the interrogation atmosphere. Therefore, this phenomenon arise a research question that this study is intended to unravel, which is the psychology behind why individuals confess to the crimes that they had not committed. According to Kassin and Wrightsman (1985), false confession consists of mainly three types. The first type of false confession is voluntary false confession is characterized by confession made in the absence of police interrogation.
At that precise moment, I know for a fact that I will tell the truth because that is my character and what I believe in. Nonetheless, a sudden fear crosses my mind; the doubt that I will not remember what I witnessed frightens me. Although it has never happened before, at every new trial, I am troubled about the thought that I will not recall exactly what happened during the situation that brought me to trial. Moreover, I believe that the offender that is on trial can easily withhold the truth about their part in the situation. As police officers, we have body cameras that record what we say and what we do during our course of duty; therefore, to see an offender falsely state what happened, sickens me.
In 1907, Hugo Mustenberg examined the reliability of eyewitness identification in his book, “On the Witness Stand”. In a study of 65 wrongful convictions completed
Furthermore, the use of trickery and deceit is not uncommon. With the widespread use of DNA evidence, many once guilty victims have been exonerated of their crimes and set free. If psychology has proven that certain practices can influence ideas and behaviors,
Eyewitness misidentification is a major problem that has an effect on adequate policing. One major goal and priority of law enforcement is justice. They should focus on prosecuting the correct person because if they are prosecuting the wrong person they are ruining an innocent persons life and justice is not being served. Many problems can arise from misidentification. It often leads to an innocent persons rights being infringed on. There are many dangers to misidentification and many causes for misidentification occurring.
When one is victim of or witness to a crime, it is expected that said person is brought into the police department to be questioned by the police. During this line of questioning it is possible that the victim or witness take part in suspect identification procedures. Such procedures include the use of lineups, showups, photo arrays and others. These procedures are referred to as system variables. These system variables are factors under the control of the investigators that have a demonstrated effect on the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness testimony. Examples of system variables that can influence eyewitness testimony include but are not limited to: statements made to eyewitnesses prior to and after lineups, instructions given to witnesses
Furthermore, there can be several factors at play when a wrongful conviction occurs and each case is unique. Three of the more common and detrimental factors that will be explored in this essay are eyewitness error, the use of jailhouse informants and professional and institutional misconduct. Firstly, eyewitness testimony can be a major contributor to a conviction and is an important factor in wrongful conviction (Campbell & Denov, 2016, p. 227). Witness recall and, frankly, the human emory are not as reliable as previously thought. In fact there has been much research showing the problems with eyewitness testimony such as suggestive police interviewing, unconscious transference, and malleability of confidence (Campbell & Denov, 2016, p.227).
The description of the Lockerbie bombing may provide image on how lengthy and complicated an investigation and a trial process could be. Eyewitness would have to go through repeated interviews. The purpose of this procedure is to assess the consistency and accuracy of the testimony. Unfortunately, it is often not realized that repeated interview may also have a negative effect on the quality of the testimony given. A study by Sharps, Herrera, Dunn, and Alcala investigated the effect of repeated questioning in the format based of police procedure (2012).
When questioning a witness, one must consider their mannerisms. Are they being forthright and responding in a timely manner or are they evading the question, arguing or even hesitating. Someone who is not credible will feel as if their back is against the wall and lash out or act defensive. As with all things, it is easier and better to tell the truth. With the truth, there is no need to try and recall the exact phrasing or small details that you used to embellish your story.