Event Title

The Innocence Project: Promoting social justice by coding mistaken lineup identification cases.

Department

Michael P. Toglia - Professor of Psychology, UNF, Faculty Mentor/Project Leader

Alexis N. Lovaas - Student, Pursuing a B.S. in Psychology, UNF

Start Date

8-11-2017 10:00 AM

End Date

8-11-2017 12:00 PM

Description

The Innocence Project has been exonerating the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing since 1992. It helps identify aspects of the criminal justice system that contribute to erroneous conviction by looking at six factors: (a) eyewitness misidentification; (b) misapplication of forensic science; (c) false confessions; (d) government misconduct; (e) incentivized informants and (f) inadequate defense. It serves as a digital repository of individual cases of the wrongly convicted. Mistaken identification is the leading cause for erroneous convictions, accounting for about 70% of them. Using the Innocence Project case index to focus on cases involving eyewitness error, we established a system of coding variables to better understand what factors precipitated wrongful convictions, including:

  • Best practice recommendations (lineup instruction/presentation, confidence statement following positive ID & other system variables which are factors that the criminal justice system has control over)
  • Estimator variables (lighting, disguise, weapon focus, and cross-race) which are factors the criminal justice system can only estimate)
  • Legal safeguards designed to prevent erroneous conviction (attorney presence at lineup, cross examination, judges’ instruction)
  • Individual characteristics (intelligence, age of witness/defendant, mental illness, intoxication, & developmental disability)

We report data in these areas, relating our findings to the eyewitness literature and theoretical approaches regarding human memory. In addition, we will continuously be in touch with the staff at the Innocence Project regarding our findings that are grounded in memory theory (basis for mistaken IDs). Implications will be discussed as ways to support social justice and reforms and will be significant in helping prevent future injustices.

Keywords: Innocence project; wrongful conviction; DNA exonerations; justice.

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Nov 8th, 10:00 AM Nov 8th, 12:00 PM

The Innocence Project: Promoting social justice by coding mistaken lineup identification cases.

The Innocence Project has been exonerating the wrongfully convicted through DNA testing since 1992. It helps identify aspects of the criminal justice system that contribute to erroneous conviction by looking at six factors: (a) eyewitness misidentification; (b) misapplication of forensic science; (c) false confessions; (d) government misconduct; (e) incentivized informants and (f) inadequate defense. It serves as a digital repository of individual cases of the wrongly convicted. Mistaken identification is the leading cause for erroneous convictions, accounting for about 70% of them. Using the Innocence Project case index to focus on cases involving eyewitness error, we established a system of coding variables to better understand what factors precipitated wrongful convictions, including:

  • Best practice recommendations (lineup instruction/presentation, confidence statement following positive ID & other system variables which are factors that the criminal justice system has control over)
  • Estimator variables (lighting, disguise, weapon focus, and cross-race) which are factors the criminal justice system can only estimate)
  • Legal safeguards designed to prevent erroneous conviction (attorney presence at lineup, cross examination, judges’ instruction)
  • Individual characteristics (intelligence, age of witness/defendant, mental illness, intoxication, & developmental disability)

We report data in these areas, relating our findings to the eyewitness literature and theoretical approaches regarding human memory. In addition, we will continuously be in touch with the staff at the Innocence Project regarding our findings that are grounded in memory theory (basis for mistaken IDs). Implications will be discussed as ways to support social justice and reforms and will be significant in helping prevent future injustices.

Keywords: Innocence project; wrongful conviction; DNA exonerations; justice.