In the courtroom a lie can send someone to their death. With this in mind it is very important that a jury member can identify whether a witness, or piece of evidence is credible. Many instances of bad evidence or false witnesses have been recorded in the history of law, so we must make an effort so that no more people get charged for crimes they did not commit.
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.
Many news stories, reports, and books fairly describe wrongful convictions in detail, although not all of these wrongful convictions resulted in formal exonerations. Most witness misidentifications were made in good faith with the witness attempting to help officials find the real perpetrator of a crime, although this explanation does not examine the conditions under which these identifications were made. Some of the conditions that need to be taken into account are whether a photo was shown to a victim by the police before a lineup, whether the identification by the witness was hesitant, or if the victim was urged to be positive when testifying. Additionally, was the identification from the same race; was there prejudice, how much distance and duration of interaction was there between victim and suspect prior to identification and what were the viewing conditions; darkness or day light? With so many factors involved, it should be obvious to some why eye-witness misidentification can happen so frequently. Moreover, the testimony of an eyewitness relies on how accurate their memory of an event actually is. Eyewitness misidentification is the greatest contributing factor to wrongful convictions proven by DNA testing, playing a role in more than 70% of convictions overturned through DNA testing nationwide (“Eyewitness Misidentification,”
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. Additionally, Recovered Memory Therapy psychotherapy, a method used to reclaim lost memories, reveals itself as problematic where false memories are concerned.
The purpose of the article by Wells and Olson (2001) was to investigate research on the other-race effect and its causes as well as propose possible reforms to the justice system to deal with problems caused by the other-race effect. This article is relevant to the fields of law and psychology because cross-racial identification happens often in the justice system and can result in wrongful conviction.
Witnesses to crimes are sometimes asked to view a police lineup to see if they can identify the culprit. Using experimentally created events, psychological researchers have long warned that eyewitness identification evidence is less reliable than people seem to believe. Corroborating the concerns of psychologists, since the advent of forensic DNA testing in the 1990s, 258 people convicted by juries in the United States have been freed based on exculpatory DNA tests, and 200 of these were cases of mistaken eyewitness identification (Innocence Project, 2010). Examination of the reasons for these mistaken identifications has provided rich avenues of investigation guided by cognitive and social perspectives. Here we focus on (a) variables that Not surprisingly, witnesses are likely to assume that the culprit is in the lineup; when explicitly warned that the lineup may or may not contain the culprit, witnesses are less likely to make a selection (Brewer & Wells, 2006). Identification accuracy is impaired under encoding conditions likely to undermine memory strength, such as divided attention, short exposure duration, and long viewing distance (e.g., Lindsay, Semmler, Weber, Brewer, & Lindsay, 2008; Palmer, Brewer, McKinnon, & Weber, 2010). Some conditions, such as identifying a culprit of a different race or one who was wearing a disguise (e.g., Meissner & Brigham, 2001), undermine encoding and/or lineup discrimination performance. Other conditions such as lengthy retention intervals are associated with diminished memory strength (Deffenbacher, Bornstein, McGorty, & Penrod, 2008). Indicators of Identification Accuracy Because an identification decision is often the key evidence against a suspect, characteristics of identification decisions that might discriminate accurate from inaccurate decisions have been explored. Decision confidence (Brewer & Wells,
Eyewitness is not the most reliable evidence, for mistakes can be made if a witness misleads the information. In Syed’s case, it is clearly that Wilds was not a reliable person based on his rapidly changing testimony. According to Richard. R Stack, a lawyer and an associate professor at the American University, an eyewitness is only reliable if s/he met all psychological processes, such as acquisition, storage, and retrieval (Stack 88). In Dead Wrong: violence, vengeance, and the
It’s not easy to reconstruct your memory and we always rely on our knowledge and attitudes to fill in the gaps. Eyewitness can be right but not always. In Zimmerman trial the witnesses were saying something totally different and it’s really hard to know which one is right. Although they saw the same thing they explained it differently. One witness said she saw two people and then the second time she said she only saw one person that explains to us that we can’t always rely on eyewitness. The innocence project has proposed to legislation to improve the accuracy of eyewitness ID’s. These proposals include recording the proof of identity technique so that the juries can regulate if it was accompanied properly, putting characters in the lineup
EYEWITNESS RECALL OF A CHILD2Did you see that? Eyewitness Recall through a Child’s EyesThe dependability and accuracy of a child’s eyewitness recall of events has been the focus of much speculation. Today the courts and attorneys are still arguing over the validity of these eyewitness accounts. Many criminal cases are built on the testimony of an eyewitness to prove guilt or innocence. Psychological writers have argued that “children are the most dangerous of all witnesses” (Brigham, Van Verst and Bothwell, 1986, p. 296). The dependability of a witness’s recall of events should be of great importance to everyone;a person will never know when guilt or innocence may be dependant on how well a child can recall an event they have witnessed.A field
Context consists of such factors as emotion and environment, and it is necessary to recreate those factors in order to access the memory that has been naturally primed to be recalled in reference to them (Cutler, Penrod, Martens, 629). Thus, when addressing these identification errors made by eyewitnesses and when trying to fix them it is essential that the officials involved in the criminal justice system who are questioning the witnesses “reinstate the context surrounding an event” (Cutler, Penrod, & Martens, 629). In other words, eyewitness identification errors need to be fixed, as well as discrepancies of reliability and accuracy within a jury and among the jury members. Furthermore, authors Kovera and Borgida discuss how social psychologists are not allowed in the courtrooms even though that would be very beneficial as they can share the knowledge of these phenomena that can often lead to injustices (1376). Perhaps the first step to more forcefully addressing and working on these influential estimator and system variables as well as jury biases will be to change that rule. But for now the most important part is that the realization of these social psychological concepts becomes widespread enough so that it becomes second natural to be aware of any biases or misjudgments occurring as a result of them. In other words, there are many issues and errors that occur within the legal system due to these social psychological aspects, and they thus must be more widely acknowledged, addressed, and fixed for they have the power to change a verdict and thus possibly ruin a life if a suspect is falsely convicted as a
Do you think eyewitness is reliable? We as humans should not rely on eyewitness consistently. I have so many reasons to why I believe eyewitness is not as strong as DNA testing. In the article it stated the Innocence Project researchers have indicated that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned trough DNA testing it based on eyewitness proof. I believe that eyewitness can sometimes be helpful and reliable but other times it’s not as reliable. Relying on eyewitness can cause an innocent person to go to jail for the rest of their life. As it stated in the article the man was arrested for so long and then at the end he was innocent and it was because of eyewitness. People don’t always recall what happened and sometimes they can make up stuff.
The thing that caught my eye on this Article was how many people are relied on for their testamony in a trial. The reason i chose this is becasue I have done a research of my own about how the system and wronful convictions based on that one eyewitness. I wanted to read it to see what others had to say. Several have been convicted of crimes that they did not do because an eyewitness stated that they were the one that did it.They seen it happen. With studies doen the witness developesfalse memories(Huffman & Sanderson 2014). Over time those memories multiply. They think that they really seen something but that could of been a memory they herd someone else say about it. They then take that as a true fact even though they did not seem to remember that
Eyewitnesses rely not only on their memory but also on their decision making abilities when deciding which information to report or when making lineup identifications. Hence, it is only logical that we consider chronotype in eyewitness testimony. Yet, to date there is only one study9 examining the effect of chronotype in the legal system. Though this study addresses the issue of the increased propensity of false confessions under conditions of chronotype asynchrony, the findings argue for further research between the fields of legal psychology and chronobiology.
IN these days when it is impossible to know everything, but becomes necessary for success in any avocation to know something of everything and everything of something, the expert is more and more called upon as a witness both in civil and criminal cases. In these times of specialists, their services are often needed to aid the jury in their investigations of questions of fact relating to subjects with which the ordinary man is not acquainted.
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).