Wrongful Convictions Essay

278 Words2 Pages
Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in nearly 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing. While eyewitness testimony can be persuasive evidence before a judge or jury, 30 years of strong social science research has proven that eyewitness identification is often unreliable. Research shows that the human mind is not like a tape recorder; we neither record events exactly as we see them, nor recall them like a tape that has been rewound. Instead, witness memory is like any other evidence at a crime scene; it must be preserved carefully and retrieved methodically, or it can be contaminated When police use suggestive procedures to obtain an identification, that should per-se be a reason to exclude the identification. If such identifications are excluded, police will begin to use only reliable identification procedures. A wealth of research has been done on why mis-identifications occur and what the best practices are to minimize the possibility of mis-identifications – why shouldn’t we insist that police use these best practices and insist that only reliable testimony be admitted at trial? "An in-court identification of an accused is inadmissible if a suggestive out-of-court identification procedure created a very substantial likelihood of irreparable misidentification." In considering whether error is harmless, a case's particular facts must be considered along with various factors including: "the importance of the witness' testimony in the prosecution's case, whether the testimony was cumulative, the presence or absence of evidence corroborating or contradicting the testimony of the witness on material points, the extent of cross-examination otherwise permitted, and, of course, the overall strength of the prosecution's
Open Document