Several jurisdictions are adopting the method of the “double-blind sequential lineup” to reduce false identification of suspects.
The Prince George’s County Police Department is transforming how detectives conduct photo lineups in an effort to prevent innocent people from going to prison.
Starting this spring, detectives must show witnesses photos of potential suspects one at a time on separate pieces of paper rather than all at once on a single page. Lineups must also be “blind,” which means a detective unfamiliar with the case must present photos to witnesses instead of an officer investigating the crime.
There is still dispute that this new practice results in more accurate ID-ing of suspects. Latest research shows that people may STILL finger the wrong person in many cases. Eyewitness memory is terrible, especially during stressful situations. People rely too heavily on the myth that their memory is like a camera or videotape and that is absolutely not the case. According to the nonprofit organization, Innocence Project, who reviews claims of false conviction, notes that about 75% of convictions deemed wrongful are later overturned by DNA evidence.
The National Academies have a committee studying this issue and will eventually produce recommendations. One researcher who is part of that committee said that while ID lineup options may CHANGE a person’s memory resulting in an incorrect ID.
Though more work is needed, this is a really promising move to reduce false accusations for innocent people.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Headline changed because it was incorrectly stated.