Over the past decades, the advancement of forensic science has been tremendous. The substantial advancements in collecting and analyzing crime scene evidence were vital to the discovery of significant amounts of cases in which false eyewitness testimonies resulted in wrongful imprisonment. The article by Wells (2020) investigates the process by which many scientists and researchers in the field of psychology had predicted the inaccuracy of eyewitness identifications. In another paper by Wixted et al. (2015), an analysis centered on signal detection theory, which examines the accuracy of eyewitness testimonies.
The methods that are currently implemented in the practice of criminology, such as line-ups or show-ups, ‘memory-as-trace-evidence’ techniques, and an introduction of cohesive communication between forensic teams and judicial representatives, are key to avoiding such problems in the future and are the best option in the current day.
Currently, the police practice of show-ups is considered less reliable than line-ups. Line-ups have flaws but should be utilized reasonably during an investigation. This is because the latter produces fewer false identifications than the former, while the correct identification rates are equal (Wixted et al., 2015). Although many argue against the use of line-ups, they have remained in practice due to necessity, efficiency, and timeliness. Additionally, data suggests that false identification rates for innocent participants in show ups exceed those for line-ups.
A recent practice known as the ‘memory-as-trace-evidence metaphor’ encourages investigators to treat memory as they treat physical evidence. This method should be implemented alongside witness identifications and interviews. This is because investigators and witnesses can establish clear communication (Wells, 2020). It is advantageous because it communicates to the eyewitness and researchers that, just as physical evidence, it is possible for memory to deteriorate and lose accuracy. Moreover, this suggests to the researchers that the manner in which witness testimonies are collected affects whether they are valued as evidence.
Communication between the justice system and the forensic team is essential for an accurate assessment of the evidence. The reason for it is that before the forensic sciences led to the discovery of many false identifications, the system was unaware of such a wide-reaching problem. A body of scientific knowledge in the justice system can identify solutions that can improve policy. Psychological research also encounters the mass issue that was largely unknown prior to forensic findings and will be able to create a systematic response to such an encompassing problem. The coexistence of the judicial authority, the forensic research, and the psychological study combined offer a stronger case when a crime is being investigated.
Wells, G. L. (2020). Psychological science on eyewitness identification and its impact on police practices and policies. American Psychologist, 75. Web.
Wixted, J. T., Mickes, L., Clark, S. E., Gronlund, S. D., & Roediger, H. L. III. (2015). Initial eyewitness confidence reliably predicts eyewitness identification accuracy. American Psychologist, 70, 515–526. Web.