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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 218072 Find in a Library
Title: Eyewitness Identification: A Policy Review
Corporate Author: The Justice Project
United States of America
Date Published: 2007
Page Count: 28
Sponsoring Agency: Pew Charitable Trust
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Justice Project
Washington, DC 20005
Sale Source: The Justice Project
1025 Vermont Avenue, NW
Third Floor
Washington, DC 20005
United States of America
Type: Guideline
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This policy review is intended to facilitate communication among local law enforcement agencies, policymakers, and others regarding best practices and methods of improving the evidentiary value of correct eyewitness identification while reducing the number of false eyewitness identifications.
Abstract: The recommendations presented reflect the consensus in the scientific community, confirmed by successful implementation in numerous jurisdictions, regarding the procedural changes that will enable law enforcement to extract the most reliable evidence from eyewitnesses for use in a criminal investigation. A review of psychological factors notes that several natural psychological phenomena can undermine the accuracy of eyewitness identification. These psychological factors, left unchecked, can lead to unreliable evidence being presented in the courtroom. A section on scientific findings relevant to eyewitness testimony mentions improvements. The past three decades of eyewitness research and discussion have focused on controlling the suggestiveness of the lineup procedures themselves. Scientific findings are presented to show the importance of cautionary instructions to an eyewitness, the effective use of "fillers" in lineups, careful documentation of lineup procedures, the "double-blind" administration of lineups, and the sequential presentation. The latter is a process whereby the witness is shown the lineup members one by one and asked to decide whether the person presented is the perpetrator. This eliminates comparison shopping in which the eyewitness feels obligated to select one person from among the group. Another section of the report discusses the benefits and costs of investing in a fair and accurate criminal justice system. Cases of misidentification by eyewitnesses are presented, along with descriptions of successful eyewitness identification procedures used in various States. The report concludes with a presentation of relevant statistics and the description of a model policy mandated in model legislation. 34 references and 43 notes
Main Term(s): Police policies and procedures
Index Term(s): Evidence collection; Eyewitness memory; Eyewitness testimony; Investigative techniques; Line-up; Suspect identification
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