The Reliability Of Eyewitness Testimony, Can You Really Remember What Happened Or Is Your Judgement Impaired Over Time.

794 words - 3 pages

The Reliability of Eyewitness TestimonyEyewitness testimony has been used frequently over time in various situations. It sometimes holds more merit then some facts or evidence. Yet it is also the reason why many innocent people go to jail and criminals still walk free.Eyewitness testimony has been used for over 100 years. It has played a major part in convicting criminals, from the common thief to the most dangerous murderer. However, even with a long incubation time like that it wasn't really recognized until the 1970's. With plenty of unsolved crimes and not enough evidence eyewitness testimony was all that was needed. Now with psychologist holding scientific studies to see if it is really reliable the legal jurisdiction try to pay more attention to the specific details. Through many studies it has been shown how the accuracy of the reports given can be altered by the ethnicity of the person and their current emotional state.It is believed that if a weapon is used in the crime that is witnessed then the eyewitness might become aroused impairing their judgment (Wagstaff, Macveigh, Boston, Scott, Brunas-Wagstaff, &Cole 2003).METHODWagstaff, &et conducted a test study with 70 witnesses (62 women, 11 men) to see how accurate they could remember what the person looked like and what kind of weapon that was used. The witnesses were asked to write down what the person looked like. Kebbel, Wagstaff, &Covey, also did a study where they tested 51 people (37 women, 14 males). They had the group watch a tape then answer questions ranging from easy to med in the first set, and in the next set from easy to hard. Lindholm & Christianson (1998) feel that emotion and group status play a part in the eyewitness testimony. They believe that one ethnic group will accept plus feel more comfortable that someone outside of their ethnic group committed a crime and pick them out of a line up then someone from their own ethnic group. They showed a group of Swedes and a group of immigrant's two tapes of a fake robbery, but they didn't tell them it was fake. In the videos they switched the perpetrator to match the ethnic groups of the two selected groups of people. When they finished watching the tapes they were told to answer some questions, and then rated their response. Yet, Wagstaff also believed...

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