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Psychological research shows that eyewitness testimony is not always accurate, therefore it should not be used in the criminal justice system. Discuss. ESSAY CCJ10 – Introduction to Forensic Psychology 1 | P a g e
Since the introduction of forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony has been described as flawed and unreliable, leading to wrongful convictions. Nevertheless, due to its ability to provide essential information to convict a suspect, eyewitness testimony is still highly regarded as an important tool within the criminal justice system. This essay will discuss psychological research relating to the factors causing the unreliability of an eyewitness’ testimonies and will argue how these factors can be streamlined to minimise the percentage wrongful convictions within the criminal justice system. Firstly, this essay will outline the current placement of eyewitness testimonies within the criminal justice system and the associate costs involved with wrongful convictions. Secondly, this essay will review the accuracy of the human memory and how influences, such as leading questions and stress, can distort an eyewitness recollection of a crime. The next topic will examine law enforcement identification procedures undertaken by eyewitness’s and unintentional markers which can influence the response. Finally, it will be argued that witness confidence can affect the overall outcome from the jurors within a court setting. Founded on the evidence gathered, it will be argued that although eyewitness testimonies are subjective, the criminal justice system can still benefit from its presence within a judicial context. The criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies have relied heavily on eyewitness testimonies, due to its ability with establishing facts surrounding a criminal event (Wells, Memon & Penrod, 2006). For the purpose of this essay, eyewitness testimonies will be defined as a detailed account of events, actions or spoken words which are presented in court by a person whom has observed and/or heard the suspected crime (McLeod, 2009) . Testimonies can be gathered by means of police interviews (recollection of events) and suspect line ups (live or photograph). In many circumstances, eyewitness testimonies play a crucial role in identifying the suspected criminal as it may be the only evidence that is 2 | P a g e
available (Wells & Olson, 2003). With the introduction of DNA and forensic evidence, there has been a shift of perception on the reliability of eyewitness testimony, as the focus has turned to the inaccuracies of a testimony which have led to wrongful convictions. According to the Innocence Project (2018) there have been approximately 358 exonerations, which have occurred from post-conviction DNA testing since 1989. From these exonerations, more than 70% have being over tuned due to the suspected criminal being misidentified, with faulty eyewitness testimony being the main contributing factor. A report released by Warren

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