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Psychological research shows that eyewitness testimony is not always accurate, therefore itshould not be used in the criminal justice system. Discuss.ESSAYCCJ10 – Introduction to Forensic Psychology1 | P a g e
Since the introduction of forensic evidence, eyewitness testimony has been described asflawed and unreliable, leading to wrongful convictions. Nevertheless, due to its ability toprovide essential information to convict a suspect, eyewitness testimony is still highlyregarded as an important tool within the criminal justice system. This essay will discusspsychological research relating to the factors causing the unreliability of an eyewitness’testimonies and will argue how these factors can be streamlined to minimise the percentagewrongful convictions within the criminal justice system. Firstly, this essay will outline thecurrent placement of eyewitness testimonies within the criminal justice system and theassociate costs involved with wrongful convictions. Secondly, this essay will review theaccuracy of the human memory and how influences, such as leading questions and stress, candistort an eyewitness recollection of a crime. The next topic will examine law enforcementidentification procedures undertaken by eyewitness’s and unintentional markers which caninfluence the response. Finally, it will be argued that witness confidence can affect theoverall outcome from the jurors within a court setting. Founded on the evidence gathered, itwill be argued that although eyewitness testimonies are subjective, the criminal justice systemcan still benefit from its presence within a judicial context. The criminal justice system and law enforcement agencies have relied heavily on eyewitnesstestimonies, due to its ability with establishing facts surrounding a criminal event (Wells,Memon & Penrod, 2006). For the purpose of this essay, eyewitness testimonies will bedefined as a detailed account of events, actions or spoken words which are presented in courtby 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) andsuspect line ups (live or photograph). In many circumstances, eyewitness testimonies play acrucial role in identifying the suspected criminal as it may be the only evidence that is2 | P a g e
available (Wells & Olson, 2003). With the introduction of DNA and forensic evidence, therehas been a shift of perception on the reliability of eyewitness testimony, as the focus hasturned to the inaccuracies of a testimony which have led to wrongful convictions. Accordingto the Innocence Project (2018) there have been approximately 358 exonerations, which haveoccurred from post-conviction DNA testing since 1989. From these exonerations, more than70% have being over tuned due to the suspected criminal being misidentified, with faultyeyewitness testimony being the main contributing factor. A report released by Warren