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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 201167 Find in a Library
Title: Investigative Paradigm
Journal: Law and Order  Volume:51  Issue:6  Dated:June 2003  Pages:133-134
Author(s): Larry Danaher
Date Published: June 2003
Page Count: 2
Type: Instructional Material; Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article identifies some of the dangers of using an investigative paradigm that views eyewitness suspect identification as sufficiently reliable to be the sole basis for an arrest, prosecution, and conviction.
Abstract: Although police, prosecutors, and jurors have produced convictions based only on eyewitness identifications of suspects, there is now a preponderance of empirical evidence from legal, psychological, and media research that shows eyewitness identifications are often unreliable. Reasons for incorrect eyewitness identification include the eyewitness' motivation to exaggerate or lie about the identification, poor lighting and other environmental conditions that impede accurate observation of the offender, impaired eyewitness perception and observation due to emotions and biases, and flawed police means of leading eyewitnesses to suspect identifications. Crime investigators must operate under the knowledge that physical evidence found at the crime scene and interpreted by forensic experts is usually more significant than information obtained by questioning witnesses. Those who supervise investigations must ensure that investigations do not fall into the trap of relying upon or making other evidence fit an eyewitness identification. Further, any police procedure for obtaining an eyewitness identification must be structured and protected to ensure objectivity and the absence of any pressure or suggestion to focus on particular mug shots or persons in a lineup.
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Evidence collection; Eyewitness memory; Eyewitness testimony; False identification; Investigative techniques; Line-up; Mug shots; Suspect identification
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