Why Lineups Don’t Line Up

Virginia Hughes flags “helpful guidance” from the National Academy of Sciences about the accuracy of eyewitness identification:

One thing all of these scientists agree on—and was underscored repeatedly in the NAS report—is the importance of recording the witness’s level of confidence immediately after making a photo identification. As many studies have shown, witnesses’ confidence in their memories tends to inflate over time, which is obviously problematic if they’re testifying in court long after the event took place. As [John Wixted, a memory researcher at the University of California, San Diego] points out, most of the people who were wrongly convicted and then exonerated with DNA were initially identified with low-confidence witness ratings. Making sure to record confidence immediately “is a fantastic recommendation that will do far more to protect innocent suspects” than switching from one lineup type to another, Wixted says.