Problems with Eyewitness Testimony

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Eyewitness testimony has been used for many centuries and continues to be a part of our criminal justice system. Although, there has been many controversy debates on whether to allow the continuation of these testimonies in court, and allow it to be used as evidence. Eyewitness testimony can either be harmful or useful for an individual. We must fully analysis and see what certain factors (psychological, and age wise) come into the equation before coming up with final conclusions.

A case study titled Problems with Eyewitness Testimony talks about a famous Canadian case in which a 14 years old boy named Steven Truscott, was convicted in 1959 of rape and murder of a 12 years old, Lynne Harper. It was later found that the conviction was based upon unreliable police investigation, 10 years old Philip Burns, (eyewitness) contributed greatly to the conviction. Police and other law enforcement figures failed to question Burns’ recollection of that night. It was known that at the time of the crime, Burns failed to remember whether he had in fact seen both the suspect and the victim on the road. Police argued in Burn’s favor in order to convict Truscott. Burns, as well failed to remember seeing other people on the road with him. These very people reported seeing Burns. (Bain p.351)

A number of factors may also affect our retrieval of the event. One such factor is whether or not a person is given recall or recognition questions…. An open-ended question such as “What specific details can you recall from the night in question?” would be an example of a recall question, whereas a recognition question might be, “Was the accused wearing a blue jacket or a red jacket on the night in question?” (Bain p. 351)

Recognition questions open up opti...

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... Simply Psychology. Retrieved December 9, 2013

Web 3: Just How Credible Is a Child Eyewitness?. (2005, July 21). ABC News. Retrieved December 9, 2013

Literature 1: Bain, C. M. (2002). Globalization and the Social Sciences. Transitions in society: the challenge of change (p. 351). Don Mills, Ont.: Oxford University Press.

Literature 2: Clifford, B. R., & Scott, J. (1978). Individual and situational factors in eyewitness memory. Journal of Applied Psychology (pp. 352-359).

Literature 3: Napp, Bernie. (2000) “Eyewitness evidence often wrong-research.” The Evening Post. (p. 10)

Literature 4: Yuille, J.C., & Cutshall, J.L. (1986). A case study of eyewitness memory of a crime. Journal of Applied Psychology, (pp. 71, 291-301)

Video: ‪American Psychological Association. (2012, October 4). "This Is Psychology" Episode 5: Eyewitness testimony. Retrieved December 9, 2013

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