The Reliability of Eyewitness Identification
Eyewitness identification and other information provided by eyewitnesses to a criminal event are relied on heavily by both law enforcement and courts in the
investigative and adjudication stages of the system of justice, yet research indicates that eyewitness testimony is the most unreliable form of evidence and
causes more miscarriages of justice than any other method of proof.
Human perception is sloppy and uneven. Existing research does not permit precise conclusions about the overall accuracy of the eyewitness identifications,
which are a common feature of criminal prosecutions, but research does lead to the conclusion that identification errors are not infrequent. Eyewitness
identifications take place in a social context in which the witness’s own personality and characteristics, along with those of the target observed, are as
critical as factors relating to the situation or environment in which the action takes place. Thus, human perception and memory are selective and
constructive functions, not exact copies of the event perceived. The gaps will often be filled in by the observer in order to produce a logical and complete
sequence of events. Experts distinguish a number of factors that limit a person’s ability to give a complete account of events or to identify people accurately.
The following are among those factors:
1. The significance or insignificance of the event
2. The length of the period of observation
3. Lack of ideal conditions
4. Psychological factors internal to the witness
5. The physical condition of the witness
6. Lack of familiarity with members of another race or ethnic group
startTime=1638825525000 (Links to an external site.)
Review the PowerPoint provided and read chapter
Be prepared to take notes along the way as you watch both videos…You will not be able to complete the assignment if you don’t take notes.
1. Watch the 60 minutes Part 1 and Part 2 videos. These segments are an incredible story of two people -the accused and the victim. It involves
eyewitnesses testimony and the DNA Innocence project.
For your assignment, I want you focus on the eyewitness testimony angle.
What is wrong with the human memory?
What bias come to play on the part of the victim. if any?
How should photo-line ups be conducted?
Should we even use eyewitnesses in court?
These are only a few things to watch for, there is a lot of information in these two videos, minimum response should be 250 words. Remember to take notes
along the way.
After reading the Chapter answer the below listed questions:
1. Define lineup, and explain what constitutional rights apply2. Define showup, and explain each applicable constitutional right.
3. Define photographic lineup, and explain what constitutional rights apply