An Innocence Project report released today examines eyewitness misidentifications, the leading cause of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing, and recommends simple reforms states and local jurisdictions can take to address the problem.
Titled “Reevaluating Lineups: Why Witnesses Make Mistakes and How to Reduce the Chance of a Misidentification,” the report lays out the problems with traditional eyewitness identifications procedures and lists six simple reforms to reduce misidentifications.
As shown in the graph below, eyewitness misidentification was a factor in 75% of wrongful convictions overturned by DNA testing.
Nine states have taken action to prevent eyewitness misidentifications, and 17 more states have considered legislation on the issue in the last two years. The Innocence Project announced today that 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.
“We know from social science research and real-world experience that these reforms work. We’re looking forward to working with police and policymakers in several key states over the next year to help them understand the need to improve lineups and the benefits of these reforms,” Innocence Project Policy Director Stephen Saloom said. “Victims are denied justice, innocent defendants are sent to prison and the public’s safety is at risk when real perpetrators go undetected.”