The Dangers of Eyewitness Identification? Innocent People Maybe Convicted

Boaz Sangero (Sapir Academic College) has posted Applying the STAMP Safety Model to Prevent False Convictions Based on Eyewitness Misidentifications (Albany Law Review, Vol. 83, 2020) on SSRN. Here is the abstract: In many criminal law systems, eyewitness identification of a suspect is sufficient to establish that they are the perpetrator of the crime in question, without any need for additional corroborating evidence. But this lofty legal status stands in contrast to the undisputed assertion in the professional literature that an erroneous eyewitness identification is far from rare, with many scholars holding it to be the most common cause of false convictions. On this background, this Article offers ways of reducing the rate of false convictions based on eyewitness misidentifications. The Article argues for the creation and application of a safety theory in the criminal justice system, specifically regarding eyewitness identifications. Therefore, after the Article connects between the modern theory of safety, which is well developed in other areas of our life, and the new theory of safety from false convictions; and after a deep discussion of one of the most serious hazards in criminal law — the hazard of false convictions based on eyewitness misidentifications — a specific safety model shall be developed, based on these discussions and on the innovative STAMP safety model. The substance of the suggested rules is based on both the psychological research and the legal literature. The high rate of false convictions is not an inevitable fate.

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