Eye Witness Testimony

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So last summer I was the victim of a crime. The police had some strong ideas about who might have done it, so I had opportunities to try to identify the perpetrator twice. Both line ups were really well done, in the sense that all six men looked a lot alike. I failed both times to identify the person the police think was responsible, although he came in “second” in my rankings. In my own defense, he wore sunglasses and a baseball hat when the crime was committed, and it happened pretty fast, so I think anyone might have had difficulties picking him out. In part I think it was my recent experience described above that caused this post to hit me like a ton of bricks.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to Eye Witness Testimony

  1. Ralph M. Stein says:

    I conducted many lineups in 12 years in a busy suburban police department. Eyewitness identification, as any experienced officer knows, if often very faulty where the victim did not actually know the perpetrator. Where the victim provides significant details of the crime and that is corroborated when checking out a subject, the chances of having the right perpetrator are good.

    Unfortunately, too many innocent people have been convicted on eyewitness testiony, often given with every belief in its accuracy.

  2. bob coley jr says:

    Although I believe crimes should be punished severely, the posability of, and inevadability of, mistakes is always present. To say we never make mistakes, even when the evidence seems clear, is to imply we, ourselves, are perfect in our judgement. The irrevocable nature of death (as far as I know it is) would make it unsuitable as a punishment. A dead person cannot forgive a mistake. They are dead. I don’t see death as a deterent that is in any way as powerful as a long life of daily torment. And at least the torment can be reversed or stopped in the event a mistake is exposed even if lost time cannot be replaced. But death cannot be undone, so its use in a society that can be manipulated or mistaken, even if the society is honest in temperment, is not justice. It is just convenient. Ever play the game “telephone”? I know, I know, hearsay. But our eyes and minds may not be much better at times. Of course this argument only applies if justice is the goal, not just control.