September 21st, 2011
On Monday, September 19, the AJS Center for Forensic Science and Public Policy, in collaboration with the Innocence Project, the Police Foundation, and the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, released a study conducted over the past three years examining eyewitness identification procedures. The study analyzed over 850 lineups in four different police departments: Austin, TX; Charlotte-Mecklenburg, NC; Tucson, AZ; and San Diego, CA. Researchers found that when witnesses view photo lineups in a sequential manner, meaning they are shown one photo at a time, rather than in a simultaneous manner, meaning they are shown all of the suspects’ photos at once, the rate of identifying “filler” photos, photos known definitively not to be the suspect, fell by 6%. Erroneous eyewitness identifications are a factor in over 75% of wrongful convictions, making systemic improvements in the way lineups are conducted all the more important.