The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony in the Criminal Justice System

1847 Words 8 Pages
There has been considerable debate worldwide, regarding the accuracy of eyewitness testimony in the criminal justice system. Particularly, arguments have surrounded wrongful convictions that have resulted from incorrect eyewitness evidence (Areh, 2011; Howitt, 2012; Nelson, Laney, Bowman-Fowler, Knowles, Davis & Loftus, 2011). The purpose of this essay is to consider psychological research about the accuracy of eyewitness testimony and its placement in the criminal justice system. Firstly, this essay will define how eyewitnesses and their testimonies are used within the criminal justice system and the current debate surrounding its usage. Secondly, the impact of post-identification feedback will be used to show the affect on the confidence …show more content…
In recent times, a large deal of focus has been given to wrongful convictions that have resulted from conflicting eyewitness identification, particularly in the United States, where DNA evidence has been used to prove innocence. Of these wrongful convictions, 75% resulted because of faulty eyewitness testimony (Nelson et al., 2011).

An empirical study was conducted on simulated witnesses to ascertain the affect that post-identification feedback has on eyewitness testimony and the inaccuracies that can result from this kind of feedback. The study by Douglas, Neuschatz, Imrich and Wilkinson (2010) was completed on 317 students from a United States university to ascertain the impact this had. These evaluators were shown video testimonies of witnesses who had completed a previous simulated identification procedure. They evaluators were asked to consider themselves as members of a jury viewing this testimony in a courtroom. The study found that where a witness had been given confirming feedback after identifying a suspect, they were considered 25% more accurate by the evaluators. Interestingly, in the same study, evaluators were then warned of the effect that post-identification feedback has on eyewitness confidence, however, still rated these witnesses as more accurate. In fact, on average these evaluators…

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