Should Eyewitness Testimony Be Considered Reliable

1205 Words5 Pages
The criminal justice system relies heavily on eyewitness identification for investigating and prosecuting crimes in that, it may be the only evidence present for identifying criminals in certain cases (Wells & Olson, 2002). The strong weight given to eye witness identifications is nonetheless a matter of concern as it eye witness identifications have been demonstrated to be flawed, even when witness confidence is high. Experience has shown that the convincing and sincere witness can often be mistaken. Memon (2008) explains where eye-witness testimonies have been greatly unreliable; where Jean Charles de Menezes was shot by police as a result of mistaken identity. According to eye-witnesses he was described as suspicious, jumped over a ticket barrier and was wearing a wearing a bulky jack supposedly concealing a device. However footage from scene indicated that this was not the case at all, as he was wearing a light shirt or jacket and walked through the ticket barrier. According to Wells and Olson (2002) psychological researchers have consistently demonstrated the flaws in accuracy of witness identification. Investigating filmed events and live staged crimes studies, researchers have indicated that mistaken identification rates can be significant and that eyewitnesses often demonstrate confidence when they mistakenly select someone from a lineup. Mistaken eyewitness identification has been shown to be the most common cause of wrongful conviction, as seen by recent DNA exonerations. According to Wells (et al., 1998) of the first 40 DNA exonerations in the US, 36 had been convicted on the basis of eye witness testimonials. The reliability of eye-witness testimonies are said to effected by certain variables. Wells and Olson (2002) explain that variables effecting eye witness testimonies can be classified as either system variables or estimator variables. System
Open Document