Eyewitness Testimony

Eyewitness Testimony - Eyewitness Testimony"More than 100...

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Eyewitness Testimony “More than 100 people who were convicted prior to the advent of forensic DNA have now been exonerated by DNA test, and more than 75% of these people were victims of mistaken eyewitness identification” (Wells 278). When eyewitnesses try to recall a certain event or individual, there are many factors that alter the individual’s memory and will cause slight altercations to the truth of the events that took place and the people who were involved. It is obvious that eyewitness testimonies should not be heavily weighted in court due to the flaws of the human mind, which has been supported over and over with research done by various psychologists. In “Eyewitness Testimony”, Gary Wells and Elizabeth Olsen, professors of psychology at Iowa State University, try to prove the fact that eyewitness testimonies are, many times, invalid by means of studying culprit identification by eyewitnesses. After looking at the startling facts of incorrect identifications of culprits, Wells and Olsen look at various factors that contribute to the incorrect culprit identifications. When an eyewitness is asked to identify the culprit, often a lineup procedure is used, which is when a “criminal suspect (or picture of a suspect) is placed among other people (or pictures of other people) and shown to an eyewitness to see if the witness will identify the suspect as the culprit” (Wells 278-9). So now the eyewitness is faced with a variety of people; some who may be suspects, others who may be fillers. Fillers are people in the lineup who are not suspects and are known to be innocent. In actual use and in research use, there are culprit-absent lineups, lineups that do not contain a suspect, and culprit-present lineups, lineups that contain a suspect among the others. In order to make the lineup as accurate as possible, the lineup’s functional size must be taken into consideration. The functional size is the number of lineup members “who are ‘viable’ choices for the eyewitness” (Wells 279). To test the functional size of the lineup, mock witnesses are used to pick a person
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This note was uploaded on 04/08/2008 for the course HSS 175 taught by Professor Schept during the Fall '07 term at Stevens.

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Eyewitness Testimony - Eyewitness Testimony"More than 100...

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