Eyewitnesses with intellectual disabilities

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Ever since DNA has been used in court cases, hundreds of people have been released from prison because DNA exonerated them from the eyewitness testimony that was given at trial that locked them up in the first place. Once news about this started getting out, how human memory was not as perfect as previously thought, many different studies have shown how easy it is to manipulate memory and create false memories to almost everyone. So when I received this assignment and had to research a topic involving false memories and present it, I chose an issue that I am very connected with, individuals with intellectual disabilities [ID]. Growing up I was a member of Friendship Circle it is a nonprofit organization that caters to children, teens, and young adults who have autism or are ‘special needs’ and immerse them in a range of Jewish and other social experiences. Being a volunteer and being exposed to children and young adults with ID and autism spectrum disorder I noticed some of the kids would get bruises in odd places and act funny some weeks. Bringing this to the attention to one of the leaders in charge I would later find out that someone was abusing that child. According to Baladerian (1991), 39-83% of girls and 16-32% of boys with an ID are sexually abused before they are 18. In another more recent article from the UK said “definite abuse was found [in people with learning disabilities] in 4-5% of individuals, but consultants felt many others had hidden signs of abuse” it also went on to state that there are about 940 new cases of abuse with the victim having an intellectual disability (Cooke and Sinason, 1998). Another study I looked at said that there is a one in fifty [1:50] chance that if someone is a victim on a crime ...

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...is increased to a total of 19 when the researchers presented them with a concrete example (what their name is). The data shows how there is a correlation between IQ score and ability to be a witness and understanding the truth. Prescreening victims and also incorporating an understanding of the truth and knowing the difference in the truth and a lie should be something that is implemented in some of the programs that assist the intellectually disabled. The study also noted that there is currently no program that includes any training in relation to the law. So there is a possibility that we can increase their knowledge and expose individuals with intellectual disabilities to courses that help them understand what a truth and lie are and hopefully reduce the amount of false memories and misinformation that these individuals are exposed to and may come across.

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