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Eyewitness Identification

PDF The importance of eyewitness identification cannot be overstated. It has been the primary piece of evidence used in trials across the country for over a century. There is nothing more compelling to a jury than a victim or a witness pointing to the defendant and telling all those present that the individual sitting at the defense table committed the crime. However, since the advent of DNA technology in the late 1980's, there have been 280 exonerations to date of persons previously convicted in criminal court. These persons have been adjudged as actually innocent. What is important to us in the criminal justice community is the fact that we understand that our past practices may have led to wrongful convictions and that there are improved methods to employ to prevent further injustices. A dual injustice occurs when we convict an innocent person while the guilt person is still free to commit more crimes against your community. Scrutiny must occur across the spectrum and on all levels of criminal investigations so that further injustices may be reduced or avoided. If your law enforcement agency has not added an eyewitness identification policy and training program, now is the time to make those changes. We offer what we believe to be improved methods that go beyond what is outlined in the Department of Justice Guide. These improved methods come from many years of research, recommendations and what current practitioners of those methods have told us today work very well. We strongly believe that the identification method that should be employed today is to conduct a sequential double blind line up and/or photo array. This method of identifying perpetrators is the best practice for law enforcement to reduce the chances of further misidentifications and wrongful convictions. This publication, based on the authors successful training programs, presents a complete overview of the use of Eyewitness Evidence in criminal investigations, the problems that face law enforcement and offer suggestions to over come those problems.

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