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Eyewitness Testimony: Issues, Problems, and Trends

NCJ Number
Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology Volume: 18 Issue: 2 Dated: Fall 2003 Pages: 28-33
Holly L. Jones
Date Published
6 pages
This article explores issues, problems, and trends associated with the use of eyewitness testimony in prosecuting various offenders.
Eyewitness testimony has often been viewed as the surest route to assuring convictions in criminal proceedings, yet this type of testimony is also often viewed as questionable, unreliable, and even invalid. Following a discussion of the importance of an eyewitness demonstrating confidence in his or her testimony, the article notes that juries and judges continue to strongly believe in such confident witnesses. Addressing the problems of eyewitness memory, the article details the importance of an interviewer not interrupting an eyewitness in order to ensure consistent reporting and recounting. Following a description of acquisition, retention, and retrieval as causative factors in determining how accurate eyewitness memories are, the article discusses the way in which false memories can be implanted when another person corroborates an event. Noting that humans are recognized as being inherently flawed in their ability to clearly and accurately recount events, the article discusses the important role of the defense attorney in assuring a fair trial whereby juries consider all evidence, its merits, and its faults. The author contends that in the future eyewitness testimony with all of its problems and difficulties is likely to be replaced by DNA evidence. References