For example, law officers can alter an eyewitness memory of the perpetrator by asking leading questions such as: If legal systems are going to minimize eyewitness error, law officers must identify the relevant eyewitness factors at the crime scene and conduct proper eyewitness interviews and identification procedures. They also demonstrate the great progress that can be made in eyewitness research when psychologists and legal professionals work together to reduce eyewitness error. Many law officers, prosecutors, and even some judges view eyewitness reforms with suspicion because they believe that they only benefit the defense, will primarily result in guilty defendants going free, and do not take into account the realities of a criminal justice system. Research shows that administrators often provide unintentional cues to the eyewitness about which person to pick from the lineup.

As previously stated, accurate assessment of eyewitness accuracy requires both knowledge of eyewitness factors and the ability to apply them to the facts of the case. Lay knowledge of eyewitness behaviour: Humans can subtly and unconsciously communicate information. Suspect photographs should be selected that do not bring unreasonable attention to him. Second, attorneys must be capable of making these assessments J Appl Soc Psychol 20

eyewitness misidentification essay

Oklahoma becomes 25th State to Require Recording of Interrogations. Years All Years All There are no consistent standards for identification procedures from state to state or even from one police department to the next.

eyeditness The principal participants in criminal justice systems appear to have limited knowledge of eyewitness factors. Author information Article notes Copyright and License information Disclaimer. She also added to the Telfaire instructions information about the effects of certain eyewitness factors on accuracy such as eyewitness confidence, stress, and the retention interval.

This means law enforcement needs to regularly review their procedures for eyewitness interviews and identification procedures to determine eyewitnezs they need revision.


Evaluating eyewitness testimony in adults and children. Prepublished online May The eyewitness, the expert psychologist, and the jury. Humans can subtly and unconsciously communicate information. Front Psychiatry 4: The actual suspect should not stand out due to some physical characteristic from the fillers. A disadvantage of a traditional lineup, or a lineup of pictures when all the pictures are presented at once, is that a witness may compare people and select the person that most approximates what they remember.

eyewitness misidentification essay

Like prior surveys of legal professionals, greater knowledge for the Italian defense attorneys was not related to legal experience but was related to attitudes and beliefs that may be necessary to reduce eyewitness error. This causes the witness to focus exclusively on the person or picture presented, rather than engage in comparison.

Two years after Glenn Kurtzrock was fired for egregious misconduct, no sign of accountability; lawsuit seeks public access to ongoing They also demonstrate the great progress that can be made in eyewitness research when psychologists and legal professionals work together to reduce eyewitness error.

Consequently, the use of scientific procedures in producing eyewitness evidence should be an important factor in determining whether eyewitness evidence is admitted in criminal cases.

Moreover, it is likely that surveys overestimate their knowledge.

An Examination of the Causes and Solutions to Eyewitness Error

This is an excellent example of a judiciary using its evidentiary gatekeeping function to cause necessary change in law-enforcement procedures. Even if law enforcement adapted all the necessary reforms for proper interviews and identification procedures, eyewitness errors would still occur.

Appl Cogn Psychol 23 9: Over people have been wrongfully convicted based, in part, on eyewitness misidentification and later proven innocent through DNA testing. This report provides a historical overview misidentificcation how eyewitness misidentification misidentiication to be recognized as a leading cause of wrongful conviction, mididentification examines the shortcomings of traditional eyewitness identification procedures, and it describes how simple improvements to procedures can alleviate the problem, with examples of cities and states across the country that have successfully implemented procedural reforms.


Legal professionals have expertise, knowledge, and experience that psychologists lack, and their skills and knowledge are essential to creating effective reforms that have strong ecological validity.

The Trouble with Eyewitness Identification Testimony in Criminal Cases

Following the NAS report, there have been a number of published articles further addressing the psychological underpinnings of the problem, police practices, and possible judicial solutions. If this esxay impracticable, an audio or written record should be made.

eyewitness misidentification essay

For example, both New Jersey and Massachusetts have created new statewide jury instructions that give jurors guidance regarding the problems associated with eyewitness identifications and how they can better assess the credibility of that testimony. Although witnesses can often be very confident that their memory is accurate when identifying a suspect, the malleable nature of human memory and visual perception makes eyewitness testimony one of the most eeyewitness forms of evidence.

Press “Enter” or click on the arrow to show results. For example, Wise and Safer 27 surveyed U. The psychologists were no more eyfwitness about eyewitness memory than judges or lay persons, and a substantial minority of the psychologists had scientifically eyyewitness beliefs about memory. J Exp Psychol Appl 2 2: This unintentional suggestion can lead an eyewitness to identify a particular individual in a photo array or lineup.

Received Apr 2; Accepted Jul