Jennifer Thompson-Cannino was raped at knife point in her apartment. She was able to escape and identify Ronald Cotton as her attacker. The detective conducting the lineup told Jennifer that she had done great, confirming to her that she had chosen the right suspect. Eleven years later, DNA evidence proved that the man Jennifer Identified, Ronald Cotton was innocent and wrongfully convicted. Instead, Bobby Poole was the real perpetrator. Sadly, there are many other cases of erroneous convictions. Picking cotton is a must read for anybody because it educates readers about shortcomings of eyewitness identification, the police investigative process and the court system.
Eyewitness misidentification has been the predominant cause of erroneous convictions. Unfortunately, it is considered compelling evidence and has been the foundation upon which many cases have been brought to trial. Factors like weapon focus effect, forgetting curve, cross-racial identification, communication with a witness after identification and memory contamination, contribute to eyewitness misidentification. Picking cotton demonstrates how memory contamination leads to witness misidentification. After Jennifer Thompson created a composite sketch of her attacker, she subconsciously searched for a face that closely resembled the composite during the lineup. As she stated later, “ The problem was that Bobby Poole had not been in my lineup, and at the time Ronald Cotton most resembled the composite”(272). Many victims like Jennifer, contaminate their memory by looking for the next best suspect during a lineup and replacing the face with the one they created during their assault. When Jennifer picked Rona...
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...re on some of these types of errors courts make and Picking cotton interestingly educates readers about the system.
The Role of the criminal Justice System is to provide justice and punish the guilty. However, the problem occurs when they do not notice the mistakes they make when trying to ensure justice. Picking cotton is a book with valuable information that educates its readers on some derelictions of the Criminal Justice System. It demonstrates some shortcomings of eyewitness identification, police investigative process and the judicial system. Picking Cotton educates readers on different errors that can contribute to erroneous convictions. It is important for Readers to be aware on these shortcomings so that reforms can be made and errors can be prevented. It is a must read for anybody because it provides an important crash course in the criminal Justice system.
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