The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony Essay example

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Eyewitness testimony is defined as, “an area of research that investigates the accuracy of memory following an accident, crime, or other significant event, and the types of errors that are commonly made in such situations.” Much emphasis is placed on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony as often-inaccurate eyewitness testimony can have serious consequences leading to wrong convictions. Eyewitness testimony is a powerful tool within any field, particularly that of justice, as it is a readily accepted form of evidence that allows for convictions. However, Tests conducted by Loftus have shown an enormous swing from a non-guilty verdict, to guilty within the same case, simply through the introduction…show more content…
Huff recently estimated that about 7,500 people arrested for serious crime in the United States were wrongly convicted in 1999. He further noted that the rate is thought to be much lower in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and others, especially those that have established procedures for reviewing cases involving the potential of wrongful conviction. Ronald Cotton was convicted in 1986 of raping a 22 year old college student, on the basis of her testimony, Cotton was sentenced to prison for life. DNA testing, 11 years later proved Cotton as innocent. Another man, Bobby Poole, pleaded guilty to the crime. (Ref: Egeth, H. E. What do we not know about eyewitness identification?) This case shows, as I mentioned earlier, how much jurors rely on eyewitness testimony, yet it perhaps is the most unreliable source of evidence in the first place. A key reason for memory distortion is that witnesses pick up information from other sources, a combination of memory from different experiences. Much research shows that memory more closely resembles a synthesis of experiences. Bartlett (1932) carried out research on reconstructive memory. He claimed that in order to make sense of an event we go through a process called “ effort after meaning.” Instead of storing an exact replica of the event, we combine it with
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