Jennifer Thompson's Flawed Eyewitness Testimony

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Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), 60 Minutes put out an interview piece about Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton and attempted to show how eyewitness testimony is flawed. Thompson was the victim and survivor of a rape and Cotton was the accused. Cotton served nearly 11 years before his exoneration, the eyewitness conviction deemed flawed. However, not flawed eyewitness testimony only convicted Cotton but the power of suggestion, finger pointing, and some unconscientious persuasion as well. There is no skirting around the terrible event that happened against Thompson. She deserved justice, but the system failed her, it also failed Ronald Cotton. When Thompson was hesitant picking Cotton, saying the suspect was either numbers 4 or 5, then for whatever reason settled on number 5, she decided she was certain he was the man who raped her. This was all the police needed to have Cotton put on trial, it seems that whomever Thompson chose would be the one to serve time. Detective Gauld used composites he assembled (based off Thompson’s word) to recreate the rapist. Suspects were rounded up and Cotton picked. The case was dissected after it fell apart and Gauld learned that memory is fragile, malleable, and that eye recognition is rapid. Thompson studied the composites for five minutes before making her decision. Most likely, she picked the person who most…show more content…
Intense training and testing has to happen within all branches of law enforcement. A great teaching method would be to actually put forensics on trial, dissect its entire process relative to eyewitness accounts, stress, and memory. Moreover, as difficult as it is to put any victim through, great benefit can be had from a professional not connected to the investigation, have the victim recount why she/he is sure they picked the right person. Chances are they will have to all over again if they pick more
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