Story out of Dallas: Witness describes how prosecutor told him which guy to identify. [I have been writing about these problems for over 30 years. These real case discoveries are becoming more commonplace but the reforms that I have been proposing are still being resisted in many jurisdictions across the U.S....]
"New approach has convinced jurors that police are more careful about whom they arrest" he said.
Georgia law enforcement agrees to eyewitness identification changes...
"During Williams’s trial, the victim was asked, on a scale of one to a hundred, how sure she was that Williams assaulted her." “One hundred and twenty,” she testified. Williams served 21 years in prison before DNA tests cleared him.
Justice Project survey shows that only a small percentage of Texas police departments have written eyewitness identification policies and those that do are generally inadequate...
Three Dallas Morning News articles on eyewitness identification- October 12 article, Oct. 13 article, Oct. 16 article
North Carolina adopts lineup reforms
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story on composites from March 25, 2007
Associated Press story on mistaken identification from July 31, 2006
Wrong man executed because of mistaken ID?
Also, see video here
Governing Magazine article on eyewitness reform May 2006
Eyewitness recommendations of the California Commission for the Fair Administration of Justice
Download Wisconsin's new Model Policy for Eyewitness Identification
Was an innocent man executed in Texas based on eyewitness identification? You decide.
U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit upholds Wells' testimony in civil suit regarding Chicago lineup
Wisconsin court rules on show-ups
A July 2005 ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court on show-ups. Click here for the written opinion
Miami Herald article from August 2005 on lineup reforms
Virginia to revamp lineup procedures, story from the Washington Post
Listen to Feb 2005 NPR story on lineups
Read Chicago Tribune story on lineups from February 17, 2005.
Read story from February 7, 2005 Chicago Tribune on lineups
Jury finds FBI framed man in part via eyewitness evidence; January 2005 article
January 5, 2005 article on eyewitness identification from Legal Affairs
Dec. 8, 2004 Christian Science Monitor article on lineups
Police charge man based on witness identification from photo lineup. But he was dead a year before crime occurred: Associated Press story
Boston Globe article click here Boston Herald article click here
North Carolina law enforcement moving towards double-blind sequential lineups. Article from Durham, NC News and Observer, June 2004.
Scientific American article on lineups, click here
Click to read (April 2003) eyewitness identification article from The Washington Post
Click to read (April 2003) eyewitness identification article from The Economist
Click to read (April 2003) eyewitness identification article from The St. Petersburg Times
Read Newsday article on lineups from February 12, 2003, click here
NOTE: If you are returning to this page, you might need to hit the "refresh" button to endure that recently added material is visible.From this link you can download several of my published articles.
Newly accepted for publication: Smalarz & Wells (article to be published in Current Directions in Psychological Science) on the relation between eyewitness confidence and accuracy and contaminants of that relation.
New manuscript by Wells, Yang, & Smalarz (under editorial review) gives a Bayesian treatment of eyewitness identification. Findings show that lineups are more proficient at incriminating the guilty than they are at exculpating the innocent. Also, a new type of curve (BREE curves) shows how even modest inprovments in the base rate produce increases in the probability of an identification being accurate tht exceed the impact of traditional system variables ...
Eyewitnesses (494) to actual crimes in four police jurisdictions ... eyewitness performance overall was very poor ...
Smalarz and Wells (2014, Law and Human Behavior) article reports experimental evidence that confirming postidentification feedback can eliminate observers' abilities to distinguish between accurate and mistaken eyewitness identification testimony.
Police Chief Magazine published an article by Mecklenburg et al. in July 2013 that discussed double blind and sequential lineups. The Mecklenburg et al. article contains some serious misrepresentations and misinformation. This is a link to my commentary on the Mecklenburg et al. article as posted on August 1, 2013.
Forensic Science Testing: The Forensic-Filler Control Method for Controlling Contextual Bias, Etimating Error Rates, and Calibrating Analysts' Reports. Article accepted for publication in the Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition. (by Wells, Wilford, & Smalarz, 2013)
New articles in press (in Perspectives on Psychological Science) addressing Clark's argument that reforms such as the double-blind lineup, unbiased instructions, and so on can reduce "hit rates". The counterargument is that these "hit rates" that he is concerned aobut are not true hits at all but instead were suggestiveness-induced responses and actually represent ill-gotten gains ...
Meta-analysis of the simultaneous versus sequential lineup (2011, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law) "...8% fewer accurate identifications but 22% fewer mistaken identifications with sequential. An identification from a sequential is more likely to be accurate..."
A short Q&A with Wells:
More on the Illinois Pilot Project:
(1) The Evanston site gave up its raw data and Nancy Steblay's analysis reveals that assignment of cases was biased against the double-blind sequential. READ THIS ARTICLE
(2) Wells article argues that "...it would never be acceptable to test one procedure (e.g., sequential) that used double-blind techniques and compare the results to another procedure (e.g, simultaneous) that used non-blind techniques." READ THIS ARTICLE
What if two witnesses identify the same person? What if one identifies the person and another identifies someone else? Article by Clark and Wells on multiple-witness identifications (Law and Human Behavior)
Article on eyewitnesses published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest
Have a video viewer? Click here to take the Wells eyewitness test
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers files lawsuit to obtain data from departments that participated in Chicago lineups study (February 8, 2006)
Two new articles, both in press in Law and Human Behavior.
1. Does morphing composite faces produce a better likeness of the culprit than the individual composites?
Stimuli from Hasel and Wells morphing study
CHAMPION readers: Click here to download the article that I mentioned in the Champion article
Fascinating new (2005) book by James Doyle titled True Witness: Cops, Courts, Science, and the Battle Against Misidentification. Click here for commentary and ordering information.
New experiments show that having eyewitnesses build face composites can damage their ability to make an identification from a lineup. Click here to read manuscript
Memory for People and Events chapter by Wells & Loftus (2003) click here
Article published in Annual Review of Psychology (2003) on eyewitness identification by Wells and Olson, click here to download
Did Scott Peterson murder his wife? What is the evidentiary value of an extra-marital affair? (article by Wells)
New article in press in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. The article concerns the question of how the speed with which eyewitnesses make their identifications relates to the accuracy of the identifications...
The Psychology of Alibis: A taxonomy. This article was published recently in Law and Human Behavior. Click here to view
Article on the distorting effects of feedback on eyewitnesses (Wells, Olson, & Charman, 2003) published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
Article on best practices in constructing and conducting lineups, click here
Click here to download a PDF version of the Wells & Olson "Information Gain" article published in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 2002.
2002 article reports experiment showing lineup feedback harms accuracy-confidence relation (Bradfield, Wells, & Olson, Journal of Applied Psychology) View article here
From the Lab to the Police Station: This is an article published in American Psychologist regarding the role of psychology in developing guidelines for eyewitness evidence.
What is wrong with the Manson v. Braithwaite (1977) test of eyewitness identification evidence? Plenty.
Ken Patanaude, of the Northampton, MA Police Department just published this article regarding their adoption of double-blind, sequential lineups.
Prestigous North Carolina Commission makes recommendations to change lineup procedures!
Story 1 Story 2
The National Institute of Justice has now released its eyewitness training manual for law enforcement. I co-chaired the identification section. The Manual is not perfect, and it represented a compromise, but this manual can be quite useful for police trainers. Use this address to view and download: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/eyewitness/188678.html
NEW! Minnesota departments try new lineup procedures
June 2003 Wall Street Journal story, click here
Have a video viewer? Click here to take the Wells eyewitness test
No video viewer? take this one instead click here
Click HERE to download the Department of Justice Guide for the Collection and Preservation of Eyewitness Evidence
Drivers' licenses being used to construct photo lineups; click here
"Eyewitness Expertise on Trial" article from the ABA Journal (American Bar Association Journal)
Canadian Judge Rules That Lineup Should Have Been Conducted Using Blind Procedure! (click here)
New York continues to struggle with issue of lineup reforms: December 10, 2002 Newsday article click here.
Baltimore Sun article on eyewitness identification
CHICAGO TRIBUNE EYEWITNESS STORY SEPT. 2002
Oct. 16 story on eyewitnesses in DC area sniper case
USA Today front page article from Nov. 26, 2002 on eyewitness identification procedures click here
See NY Law Journal article (from 4/29/02) describing Staten Island's first sequential lineup (click here)
Click here to listen to an NPR story on eyewitness identification from June 2000
Click HERE to read an article on eyewitness identification published in the APA Monitor
|Expert Testimony on Eyewitness Issues||For those interested in expert testimony or consulting on eyewitness issues, please read this expert services information page.|
Click here to view an article from the NY Daily News (July 27, 2000) in which eyewitness identification and a confession are proven false by a video alibi!
|DNA to the rescue:
When an innocent suspect is identified by a confident eyewitness as being
the perpetrator of a crime, there may be little to keep that person from
being convicted. Once convicted, there is little hope for later exoneration.
Since the advent of forensic DNA evidence, however, some people who were
mistakenly identified by eyewitnesses and convicted by juries have been
released from prison because the newly-analyzed DNA evidence proved that
they did not commit the offense. Under the aegis of the National
Institute of Justice, a study was made of 28 cases of wrongful conviction.
Click here to read this report titled "Convicted by juries: Exonerated by Science".
|Notice: A review of scientific research on eyewitnesses
has resulted in a set of guidelines for how lineups and photo spreads should
be constructed and conducted. You can download this document. See panel
to the right.
||In 1996, the American Psychology/Law Society appointed a committee to prepare a white paper reviewing the scientific evidence on eyewitness identification and describing rules for how lineups and photo spreads should be conducted. This paper, authored by Gary Wells, Mark Small, Steve Penrod, Roy Malpass, Sol Fulero, and Elizabeth Brimacombe, was published in the journal Law and Human Behavior in December 1998. The following link takes you to the text of this paper: Scientific Review of Lineups paper, click here.|
|Tired of reading? Want to sit back
and hear some interesting things about the reliability of eyewitnesses?
If you have Real player 2.0 or higher (which allows you to listen to audio
over your computer), then you will want to check out this story that was
broadcast on NPR (National Public Radio) in June 1998. Simply click here:
eyewitnesses story broadcast on NPR"
If you do not have Real player,
use the following download site and save the Real player program on your
hard drive at no cost.
|Flashback 1968 image|
|EYEWITNESSES TO CRIME: THE PHENOMENON OF MISIDENTIFICATION|
Although psychological scientists have been studying human memory for over 100 years, not until the mid 1970's that a focus was directed to eyewitness memory. The importance of such research is easily substantiated because mistaken identification is the largest single cause of false conviction, accounting for more criminal convictions of innocent people than all other causescombined (see Wells, Small, Penrod, Malpass, Fulero, & Brimacombe, 1998).
My eyewitness research program was launched in 1974 while still a graduate
student. It is directed at discovering the causes of mistaken
identification from police lineups and photo spreads with a particular
emphasis on how to prevent these errors. Numerous successful interventions
have been developed, such as:
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