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Reforming The System – TJP Policy Reviews April 5, 2007

Posted by FairSentencing in : Current News , trackback

This week, The Justice Project issued comprehensive policy reviews on two areas of great importance in the field of criminal justice policy and reform – improving procedures for eyewitness identification and electronic recording of custodial interrogations. The policy reviews have been designed to facilitate communication among local law enforcement agencies, policymakers, practitioners and others. By presenting many of the successful methods employed in local jurisdictions, as well as the science behind them, The Justice Project hopes to create a dialogue around recommendations that will enhance the quality of evidence relied upon in criminal trials, as well as confidence in our system of justice. By identifying the pitfalls and pragmatic best practices with the latest research behind them, these reviews are designed to serve as tools for various audiences and stakeholders within the criminal justice system.

Mistaken eyewitness identification accounts for more wrongful convictions in the U.S. than all other causes combined. When an eyewitness mistakenly identifies the wrong individual, the costs to public safety are great. Nonetheless, decades of research have proven that a number of small changes to identification procedures can help improve the accuracy and reliability of eyewitness identifications.

False confessions have also played a significant role in wrongful convictions. Electronically recording custodial interrogations, however, provides an objective record for effectively evaluating the voluntariness and reliability of a suspect’s statement. The virtue of electronic recording of custodial interrogations, and its strength as a public policy, lies not only in its ability to help guard against false confessions, but also in its ability to develop strong evidence to help convict the guilty.

Additional copies of the enclosed policy reviews are available upon request. If you are working directly on this issue in your state, or you would like additional information, please contact info@thejusticeproject.org.

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