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.
Introduction Many important court cases depend on memory-based evidence. When there is not enough physical evidence to convict a suspect, law enforcement relies on testimonies and confessions to put criminals behind bars, yet, not all testimonies are reliable. Throughout the years, there have been many people who have been falsely convicted based on inadequate police interrogation methods that allowed for false confessions to occur. Effectiveness of Interrogation Methods Used by Civil Law Enforcement
Wrongful convictions can happen when an eyewitness recalls memories and details that are not their own or in cases where the person seems familiar to the eyewitness but not because they committed a crime. Summary It was informative and interesting to read "Safeguards against wrongful conviction in eyewitness
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).
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
Her earliest studies of eyewitness testimony addressed several issues: when someone sees a crime or accident, how accurate is his or her memory? These studies led Loftus to ask what happens when witness are questioned by police officers, and what if those questions are suggestive (Loftus, 2003). For instance, when Loftus began showing people films of traffic accidents, she found that a question such as “How fast were the cars going when the smashed into each other?” led to higher estimates of speed than a more neutral question that used the verb “hit”. Moreover, the “smashed” question led more people to falsely remember seeing broken glass when there was none.
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.
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
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
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 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
There is a lack of generalizability of many of the studies across all spectrums of children, particularly in regards to socioeconomic backgrounds that also play a factor in developmental delays outside of abuse (Krackow & Lynn, 2003). Child witness research has lacked studies on the strengths and weaknesses of abused children while instead focusing on nonabused children who may create false allegations (Eisen, et al., 1998). While this research may provide insight into how nonabused children may present false memories upon interrogation, it does not further information on how abused children respond under interrogation and how best to assist them in the legal process to protect them. Current research is often conflicting on whether or not abused children are more or less likely to confuse nonabusive events with abusive ones and abused children to have a higher rate of accepting abuse-related suggestions that lead to false memories (Pezdek & Roe, 1994,
Consequently, when interrogators go into interviews believing the suspect is guilty, it brings on intense amounts of stress, putting suspects at a higher risk to crack under pressure. E. This increased pressure brought on by misclassified interrogations cause innocent suspects to feel so much stress they confess to a crime they did not commit. F. Misclassified errors are just one way suspects feel their only option is to give a false confession in order escape the pressure in the interrogation room. II.
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).
Stress involves interaction of the person and environment. To quote a definition: “Stress is an adaptive response to an external situation that results in physical, psychological and / or behavioural deviations for organizational participants” (Luthans, 1998). Stress has generally been viewed as a set of neurological and physiological reactions that serves an adaptive function (Franken, 1994). Traditionally, stress research has been oriented toward studies involving the body's reaction to stress and the cognitive processes that influence the perception of stress. However, social perspectives of the stress response have noted that different people experiencing similar life conditions are not necessarily affected in the same manner (Pearlin, 1982).