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Understanding science of eyewitness identification


Narrator:       This is Science Today. Mistaken eyewitness identification is a leading cause of wrongful convictions in this country. Psychologist Steven Clark of the University of California, Riverside, says understanding the science of eyewitness identification can help the criminal justice system and public policy. In the lab, Clark has found the way a lineup is presented may play a role in false IDs.

Clark:             Sequential presentation may make witnesses more hesitant to pick somebody than they would be if it were a simultaneous lineup. One of the things that makes these kinds of policy decisions complicated is if the guy in position three is an innocent suspect, then that sequential lineup just saved that person from being misidentified. But if number three is the guy who did it, well, same thing. The sequential lineup will reduce the likelihood of a correct identification. So, this particular procedural reform will reduce the false ID rate, but it will also reduce the correct ID rate and makes policy decision a bit more complicated.

Narrator:       For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.