The Justice Department has joined forces with the Innocence Project and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) in an attempt to end wrongful convictions, The Washington Post reports. The organizations have come up with a list of 30 recommendations for police investigations, and the IACP will urge departments nationwide to “adopt new guidelines for conducting photo lineups, videotaping witness interviews and corroborating information from jailhouse informants.”
One major area of concern addressed by the new guidelines is that of witness recollection. Despite being particularly convincing to juries, witness identifications are wrong one-third of the time, and have played a role in hundreds of convictions that have been overturned because of DNA evidence. Research funded by the Justice Department suggests that error and bias can be reduced if photo lineups are administered by officers who don’t know who the suspect is. It also suggests that potential suspects should be shown to witnesses in individual photographs rather than in one group picture.
Some police departments have expressed concern that the new procedures could confuse witnesses or create other problems. The IACP acknowledges this viewpoint, but still urges agencies to implement the blind and sequential lineups immediately.
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