The Unreliability of Eyewitness Testimony in Children

2677 Words6 Pages

Memory is not reliable; memory can be altered and adjusted. Memory is stored in the brain just like files stored in a cabinet, you store it, save it and then later on retrieve and sometimes even alter and return it. In doing so that changes the original data that was first stored. Over time memory fades and becomes distorted, trauma and other events in life can cause the way we store memory to become faulty. So when focusing on eyewitnesses, sometimes our memory will not relay correct information due to different cues, questioning, and trauma and so forth, which makes eyewitness even harder to rely on. Yet it is still applied in the criminal justice system.

Eyewitnesses play a critical role in criminal justice systems throughout the world and are often essential in identifying, charging, and ultimately convicting perpetrators of crimes.

Jurors tend to over-believe, or are at least greatly influenced by, eyewitness evidence

(Kennedy & Haygood, 1992; Williams & Loftus, 1994), which is worrying considering the growing and substantial body of evidence from laboratory studies, field studies, and the criminal justice system supporting the conclusion that eyewitnesses frequently make mistakes (Cutler & Penrod, 1995; Huff, 1987; Huff, Rattner, & Sagarin, 1986; Innocence Project, 2009; Wells, Small, Penrod, Malpass, Fulero, & Brimacombe, 1998). According to a number of studies, eyewitness misidentifications are the most common cause of wrongful convictions (Huff, Rattner, & Sagarin, 1986; Wells et al., 1998; Yarmey, 2003) and, through the use of forensic DNA testing, have been found to account for more convictions of innocent individuals than all other factors combined (Innocence Project, 2009; Wells, Memon, & Penrod, 2006).

The capabi...

... middle of paper ...

...sues 2006, Vol. 62, No.4, 811-832.

Joseph A.L., Hartmut B. & James D.S. (2010). Uniforms Affect the Accuracy of Children’s

Eyewitness Identification Decisions. Journal of Investigative Psychology & Offender

Profiling 2010, 7, 59-73

Krackow E. & Lynn S.J (2010). Event Report Training: An Examination of the Efficacy of a

New Intervention to Improve Children’s Eyewitness Reports. Applied Cognitive

Psychology 2010, 24: 868-884

Lehman E.B., McKinley M.J., Thompson D.W., Leonard A., Liebman J.I. & Rothrock D.D.

(2010). Long term Stability of Young Children’s Eyewitness Accuracy Suggestibility and

Resistance to Misinformation. Journal of Applied Development Psychology 2010, 31,


Quas J.A., Goodman G.S., Ghetti S., & Redlich A.(2000). Questioning the Child Witness: What

Can We Conclude from the Research Thus Far? Trauma Violence Abuse 2000 1:223

Open Document