There are times in trials when the decision to convict an accused is bases sole or partially on whether or not a witness can say for certain that the accused committed a crime. What then, if the eyewitness is wrong? Or if the witness is being coerced by the police or the prosecution? A better question one may ask is what if eyewitness testimony is simply not consistent. That would mean that there are persons in prison who may or may not be guilty.
Not surprisingly, "The National Institute of Justice recently published a report of the first 28 cases in which convicted felons were exonerated by DNA evidence after varying numbers of years in prison. Remarkably, all of these cases contained one or more false eyewitness identifications (Connors, Lundregan, Miller, & McEwan, 1996). - This report suggests that it is time that researchers stop conducting experiments in the laboratory and court rooms of America, and instead move into the police stations; then and only then can we as citizens and as a scientific community be certain as to whether eyewitness identification is at all consistent and or relevant. While there have been recommendations' to investigate eyewitness identification and the investigation process, perhaps the best one is the recommendation to video tape all proceedings involved in the investigation of any accused criminal.
To start, we must realize that police lineups are not often documented accurately and therefore leave an opening for many mistakes to occure. The writer of the article I have reviewed, Kassin, said, "I have had more than one occasion to observe that descriptions of the process given by investigators are often inconsistent with statements made by the witnesses themselves or even with videotapes when these are available (in my own experience, for example, I have seen police and witnesses differ in their recollections of the instructions given). - The main problem seems to be memory.