Johnny J. Stewart Jr.
Professor Nina Walker
July 21, 2014
There are many different reasons why the reliability of eyewitness testimony in the United States judicial system today is all but flawed. There is only one way a witness can identify a suspect who has committed a crime, and it is called face to face recognition. Just getting a glimpse, bad weather, and bad lighting can hinder what a person can truly see. There have been several accounts of individuals that have been convicted, imprisoned, and put to death off of flawed testimonies by an eyewitness. In this I will attempt to show you my discussions of several statistics, convictions, ...view middle of the document...
Alvin Jardine was freed through DNA testing after serving 20 years jailed in Hawaii, again due to eyewitness misidentification. Of the 21 cases on the Innocence Network’s 2011 exoneration report, 19 wrongful convictions involved eyewitness testimony (Innocence Network Report, 2011). This is consistent with statistics showing more than three-quarters of wrongful convictions later overturned by DNA evidence relied on faulty eyewitness evidence.
In this research paper of eyewitness testimonies there is no sure way to be one-hundred percent sure of anything that you did not encounter face to face. When an individual has to recall a situation they may change their wording of the particular situation more than a few times. Different things can affect the memory and the visual of a person such as, a weapon being involved, the weather, the difference in race, and how long you wait to actually testify. The longer you wait to recall a memory the worse it will be for you to actually remember the events that truly took place. I believe that all Eyewitnesses testimonies should only be used for face to face events with a victim, and the victim’s violator. The introduction of DNA testing in the 1990 era has eased the system with actually having a more thorough way to pinpoint criminals. Since the 1990 era when DNA testing was first introduced the Innocence Project researchers have reported that 73 percent of the 239 convictions overturned through DNA testing were based on eyewitness testimony. One third of these overturned cases rested on the testimony of two or more mistaken eyewitnesses (Hal Arkowitz and Scott O. Lilienfeld, Jan8. 2009).
Studies have been conducted on human memory and on subjects’ propensity to remember erroneously events, and details that did not occur. In the mid-seventies experiments demonstrating the effect of a third party’s introducing false facts into memory. Test subjects were shown a slide of a car at an intersection with a yield sign or a stop sign. Experimenters asked the test subjects questions, falsely introducing the term stop sign into the question instead of referring to the yield sign participants had actually seen. Experimenters falsely substituted the term yield sign in questions directed to participants who had seen the stop sign slide. Results indicated that subjects remembered seeing the false image. The initial part of the experiment, subjects also seen a slide showing a car accident. Some of the other subjects were later asked how fast the cars were traveling when it hit. The others were asked how fast the cars were traveling when they crashed into each other. Those subjects questioned using the word smashed was more likely to report having seen broken glass in the original slide. The introduction of false cues altered participants’...