False identification of suspects in lineups
False identification of suspects in lineups (live and photos) have led to wrongful convictions. Find a real-life case example of this not stated in the text and briefly describe the situation. What strategies have agencies begun to employ to minimize false identification, and why? To be legal, the police must inform a suspect of “Miranda” rights if any interrogation is to be custodial in nature. What does “custody” mean to you? To the courts? Would it be a better policy to require informing someone of their rights before any questioning regardless of “custody”? Why or why not?
One real-life case of false identification occurred in the case of Ronald Cotton, who was wrongfully convicted of rape in 1985. Jennifer Thompson, the victim, identified Cotton as her attacker from a photo lineup and then in a live lineup. Cotton was convicted based on Thompson’s testimony and spent 11 years in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence in 1995. This case highlights the potential for false identification in lineups and the need for improved identification procedures.
Agencies have implemented various strategies to minimize false identifications, including using double-blind procedures, where the person conducting the lineup does not know who the suspect is, providing clear instructions to witnesses, using sequential lineups instead of simultaneous lineups, and recording the witness’s confidence level in their identification.
To the police, custody means that a suspect is not free to leave and is being held for questioning. The courts have established that custody exists when a reasonable person in the suspect’s position would not feel free to leave. It would be a better policy to require informing someone of their rights before any questioning, regardless of custody, to ensure that the suspect is aware of their rights and can make an informed decision about whether to waive them or not. This would also help prevent coercion and reduce the risk of false confessions.