Unit 7 project_Phil Sumner

Unit 7 project_Phil Sumner - Wrongful Convictions Wrongful...

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Wrongful Convictions Wrongful Convictions, Who Did It? Phil Sumner Deviance and Violence Professor Miles June 30, 2009
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Wrongful Convictions Abstract Wrongful convictions are an increasing problem within the United States. In this paper the writer will discuss the identification process that law enforcement agencies use to identify potential criminals. This writer will also discuss the flaws in the systems that these agencies use. The writer will then shift into the ethical issues of the law enforcement agencies to identify the right individuals. The writer will then conclude this paper with his own thoughts and opinions on this crucial topic.
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Wrongful Convictions Identifying Potential Criminals: Law enforcement agencies use many different tactics in identifying potential criminals. Of these tactics some have panned out to be more reliable than others. Some of the tactics used by police forces and other agencies include: 1. DNA Profiling 2. Hypnosis 3. Psychics 4. Photographic 5. Polygraph 6. Mug Books 7. Line ups (O’ Connor, 2006) Although these are not all of the resources available to law enforcement agencies they are some of the most used. DNA: DNA evidence has become one of the most widely used identification processes there is. When DNA is associated with a crime it can be a very powerful form of evidence. When the DNA procedure is used correctly in most cases it can become an open and shut case. The way DNA works is, bodily fluid is collected from the crime scene and taken to a lab to be examined. The
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Wrongful Convictions fluid is then compared to that of the suspect. Because DNA is unchanging and, everyone’s DNA is their own personal “code” there is not much flaw in this identification process. DNA when presented in court must be presented in the fashion of a ratio for instance a one in five million chance that the named suspect did not commit the crime (O’Connor, 2006). Hypnosis: Hypnosis while it is rarely used anymore causes a witness to relax enough to recall memories from a crime that they have observed. Most states do not allow this form of identification because of its proven unreliability (O’Connor, 2006). While most states have banned this tactic the states that do use it use it for recalling license plates, descriptions of a fleeing offender, and other witnesses that may be involved or around the crime when it took place. Unlike DNA many flaws have been found in this form of identification. One of them would be leading the individual into answers that you want to hear, such as “it was him he did it”. Psychics: This is one of the rarest tactics used today. Although this tactic is rare it was once used to solve one of the most famous cases in the serial killer world. In the Son of Sam killings Dorothy Allison’s psychic abilities were used to identify the killer. In most cases a psychic’s involvement in criminal proceedings is kept secret. Courts usually frown on testimonies that psychics may give as to being a witness (O’Connor, 2006). There is too much room for error when psychics
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This note was uploaded on 10/08/2010 for the course PSY/428 psy/428 taught by Professor Sunday during the Spring '10 term at University of Phoenix.

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Unit 7 project_Phil Sumner - Wrongful Convictions Wrongful...

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