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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 186516 Find in a Library
Title: DNA-Based Exonerations Warrant a Reexamination of the Witness Interview Process
Journal: Police Chief  Volume:67  Issue:12  Dated:December 2000  Pages:52-57
Author(s): Joseph J. Gillen Ph.D.; Clifford E. Thermer Ed.D.
Editor(s): Charles E. Higginbotham
Date Published: December 2000
Page Count: 6
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Recent post-conviction DNA evidence has exonerated 62 persons, 8 of whom had been sentenced to death, and these DNA-based exonerations suggest the need to re-examine the witness interview process.
Abstract: How a witness encodes and stores memories of an event is determined by the complex web of associations it makes regarding the following: details and context of the event; witness thoughts, mood, and emotional state at the time of the event; and memories of earlier events the witness perceives as somehow related. Cognitive psychology has produced a wealth of information about witness interviews, and the field of cognitive psychology indicates the investigator should dispel anxiety and establish a rapport with the witness in order to elicit the maximum amount of reliable information. Phases of the cognitive interview are the introduction, open-ended narration, the probing of memory codes, review, and closure. The investigator needs to be an active listener at times, recreate the context of the event for the witness, ask the witness to provide a narrative description of the event, avoid interrupting the witness, make use of pauses after the witness stops speaking, extend the life of the interview and create a positive impression, and contact the witness within 1 week of the interview to inquire about his or her well-being. 7 footnotes and 1 figure
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Criminal investigation; DNA fingerprinting; Eyewitness memory; Interview and interrogation; Police policies and procedures; Witnesses
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