New Report on Faulty Eyewitness Evidence And Wrongful Convictions

The Innocence Project has a released a new report on the role of eyewitness identifications in wrongful convictions. “Reevaluating Lineups: Why Witnesses Make Mistakes and How to Reduce the Chance of a Misidentification,”

The report finds that 75% of wrongful convictions overturned through DNA testing involved eyewitness misidentification. 17 states in last two years have considered reforms. The full report is here (pdf).

240 people, serving an average of 12 years in prison, have been exonerated through DNA testing in the United States, and 75% of those wrongful convictions (179 individual cases as of this report) involved eyewitness misidentification. In 38% of the misidentification cases, multiple eyewitnesses misidentified the same innocent person. Over 250 witnesses misidentified innocent suspects.


So far, nine states have taken action to prevent eyewitness misidentification, and the Innocence Project said it will focus on implementing reforms over the next year in 10 states, including New York, Texas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Ohio, Michigan and Rhode Island.

The report suggests reforms to minimize the possibility of misidentification.

The Executive Summary is here.

< Thursday Morning Open Thread | John Yoo Defends Himself >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    i have a question for (none / 0) (#1)
    by cpinva on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 12:34:08 PM EST
    the attorneys:

    can one refuse to participate in a police line-up? i'm guessing this would fall under the 5th amendment's right to not be forced into self-incrimination, but that's merely an (sort of) educated guess.

    Nope (none / 0) (#3)
    by Steve M on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 02:10:50 PM EST
    You can be compelled to appear in a lineup because it is not considered "testimonial in nature."  In other words, it's like being fingerprinted.

    In an interesting twist, the police obviously cannot force you to give a statement, but they can require you to speak certain words for the sole purpose of establishing a voice identification.  Now that's a nuance.


    lies and statistics (none / 0) (#2)
    by diogenes on Thu Jul 16, 2009 at 01:59:15 PM EST
    If 179 out of 240 knocked out by DNA were bad eyewitness ID's, what does that prove?
    I wonder what proportion of men who assert their innocence, have newly found DNA evidence, and have that DNA evidence prove their GUILT also have "eyewitness evidence involved in their cases"?  I bet it's 75%.