Eyewitness Misidentification

Eyewitness Misidentification: Before the authorities start looking for an unknown person that the eyewitness has described. And that eyewitness will possibly be the final say as to whether or not the police have found the right person. We strongly suggest that the eyewitness be tested. This could be accomplished like this:

  • Have the police put together a photo or live lineup using the same ethnic background that the witness has identified as the perpetrator. They don’t have to look like the perpetrator, could be of different size, age, etc. They only have to look similar as a group. They should all be innocent of this crime. And none of them seen before by the witness.

  • Present the witness with one person or photo out of that lineup. Make sure the witness knows this is a test of their ability to differentiate people, and that they should look carefully, explain the importance not to send an innocent person to prison. And that the police will still look for the real perpetrator no matter what the outcome of this test.

  • The one person that was presented to the witness separately should change their clothing and remove any jewelry before they return to the complete lineup. To prevent the witness from focusing on these item’s. If a photo was used a different one should be used in the full lineup, using the same person, dressed differently.

  • Then show the witness the whole lineup, and see if the witness can pick out the one that was presented separately before.

  • A high density video camera with sound should capture the presentation of:
    • The single photo or single live person. That was presented to the witness separately.
    • The complete lineup either photo or live.
    • The witness viewing both the single and full lineups and their answers to level of certainty of their identification.

The police should utilize double-blind identification procedures. A minimum of six photos or six live persons in a lineup and should be presented one witness at a time. The test would have more validity if conducted under the same condition as the crime transpired as much as possible lighting, amount of time viewed, distance, etc. Some people are better at facial recognition than others especially cross-racial identifications. The result of this test should be conveyed to the jury if the real perpetrator is found and the witness testifies in court, as to their reliability and accuracy.

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