The has announced a grant of $333,287 to the to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the science of eyewitness identification.
The grant will enable NAS to conduct what is believed to be the first comprehensive evaluation of existing research on eyewitness identification of criminal suspects, which, when incorrect, hinders the administration of justice. According to the foundation, mistaken eyewitness identification played a role in more than three-quarters of the first two hundred and fifty cases in which people convicted of a crime were later exonerated by DNA evidence.
NAS will convene a multidisciplinary committee of leading experts to examine a variety of issues, including how a witness's memory may be affected by the procedures used to create and administer live and photo lineups, the length of time of a witness's exposure to a suspect during the commission of a crime, the amount of time that elapses between the witness's viewing of the perpetrator and the identification, and the presence of a weapon at the time the witness viewed the perpetrator. Following its review, NAS will make recommendations for improving the administration of lineups and photo arrays, ensuring accurate and appropriate use of eyewitness evidence, and high-priority areas for future research.
"It is critically important that we fully understand best practices in eyewitness identification, and we are pleased to ask NAS to take on this project," said Anne Milgram, vice president of criminal justice at LJAF. "Eyewitness identification is an enormously important law enforcement tool. But it is equally critical for public safety that these identifications be correct."