Visit the Innocence Project that discusses eyewitness iden…

Visit the Innocence Project that discusses eyewitness identification, making sure to watch the embedded video. Based on the information provided by both the victim and the police officer, analyze the problems in identifying the suspect. Explain the reasons that the eyewitness may have falsely identified Mr. Cotton. Evaluate the police lineup procedure. Where were the problems, and what could have been done differently? Please write no more than two (2) pages, using APA format.

Eyewitness identification plays a crucial role in criminal investigations and proceedings. However, research has shown that eyewitnesses can sometimes make errors and falsely identify suspects. The Innocence Project, an organization dedicated to overturning wrongful convictions, presents a case study that sheds light on the problems encountered in identifying a suspect and highlights the flaws in the police lineup procedure. This analysis will examine the reasons for the false identification of Mr. Cotton and evaluate the shortcomings of the police lineup procedure, providing recommendations for improvement.

In the case explored by the Innocence Project, the eyewitness, Jennifer Thompson, positively identified Ronald Cotton as the perpetrator of a rape and burglary that occurred in 1984. Thompson’s confidence in her identification was reinforced by the police officer’s belief that Mr. Cotton was the suspect. However, DNA evidence later proved Mr. Cotton’s innocence, leading to his exoneration after serving over a decade in prison.

One reason for the false identification of Mr. Cotton is the fallibility of human memory. Research has shown that memory is not a flawless recording of events but is subject to various biases and distortions. In this case, Thompson’s memory was influenced by the emotional intensity of the traumatic event, leading to a heightened sense of certainty and confidence in her identification. The video embedded in the Innocence Project provides insight into the impact of emotional trauma on memory performance. The distortion of memory due to emotional factors can lead to false identifications, as witnesses may rely more on confidence than accuracy.

Additionally, the presence of suggestive police procedures can contribute to false identifications. In the case study, Thompson was shown a photo lineup where Mr. Cotton’s photograph was the only one repeated, suggesting to the witness that he was the suspect. This practice, known as ‘sequential presentation with repetition,’ creates the potential for bias and increases the likelihood of a false identification. Research has consistently demonstrated that lineup fairness is essential to ensure accurate identifications. Sequential presentation without repetition and the inclusion of plausible foilsā€”individuals who resemble the suspectā€”can enhance lineup fairness and reduce the risk of false identifications.

The police lineup procedure utilized in this case was problematic for several reasons. First, presenting Mr. Cotton’s photograph as the only repeated one created a subtle suggestion that he was the suspect, potentially influencing Thompson’s selection. Second, the lineup was conducted several months after the incident, providing ample opportunity for memory degradation and contamination. Research has shown that the time delay between the event and the lineup can negatively impact witness accuracy, as memory for details becomes less reliable over time. Additionally, the presence of the confirming feedback, such as the police officer’s belief in Mr. Cotton’s guilt, can further reinforce the witness’s confidence and potentially increase the likelihood of a false identification.

Several improvements could have been implemented in the police lineup procedure to mitigate the problems that arose in this case. Firstly, the lineup should have been conducted using double-blind administration, where neither the witness nor the administrator knows the identity of the suspect. This procedure minimizes the risk of suggestion or unintentional cueing from the lineup administrator, reducing the likelihood of false identifications. Secondly, the lineup should have included plausible foils who closely resemble the suspect, preventing the witness from making an identification based solely on process of elimination. Thirdly, it would have been crucial to conduct the lineup promptly after the incident to minimize the opportunity for memory degradation and contamination.

In conclusion, the false identification of Mr. Cotton in the case examined by the Innocence Project highlights the fallibility of eyewitness testimony and emphasizes the flaws in the police lineup procedure. Memory distortion, suggestive police practices, and flaws in the lineup administration can contribute to false identifications. To improve the accuracy of eyewitness identifications, it is essential to implement fair lineup procedures, reduce the influence of suggestive practices, and educate law enforcement personnel on best practices for conducting lineups. By addressing these issues, the criminal justice system can reduce the risk of wrongful convictions and ensure the integrity of eyewitness identification.