Criminal Justice News and VIews

Interesting items related to criminal justice

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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Better Witness Identification

The Wall Street Journal on Saturday April 14 reported on new research regarding memory. Entitled When Memory Commits and Injustice, it reports on research done by William Hirst of the New School and Elizabeth Phelps of New York University who have been studying people's memory about the tragedy of 9/11. One interesting finding is that when a person is not given more than a few moments to answer, the answer differs from the same person's given more time to consider an answer. It appears that more time allows for more embellishing. This phenomenon is one of the root causes of criminal identification errors that result in innocent person's being incarcerated. PBS did an excellent documentary about the result of this error in What Jennifer Saw According to the study, police should ask for a quick response when showing a witness a lineup. The authors believe this would dramatically reduce the number of faulty identifications. Re-training police departments to utilize this technique instead of telling a witness to "take your time" would be a step in the right direction.