News 03.16.16

Kansas Bill on Eyewitness Identification Passes Senate

By Innocence Staff

The Kansas Senate passed a bill recently which would lead law enforcement to adopt practices for eyewitness identification that are proven to help protect against misidentification, which is a main cause of wrongful convictions proven by DNA evidence.

The bill, SB 428, requires police to adopt written policies on eyewitness identification procedures and recommends that those policies include: 1) the blind administration of lineups, in which the administering officer is not aware of the suspect; 2) instructions for the eyewitness that the perpetrator may or may not be in the lineup; 3) fair lineup composition in which all members of a lineup resemble the description provided by the witness and 4) confidence statements by the eyewitness regarding their level of confidence in their identification. These practices are endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences, the International Association of Chief of Police and many others.

Kansas law enforcement took the lead in addressing eyewitness misidentification by strongly supporting SB 428. The bill was spearheaded by Senator David Haley and is endorsed by the Kansas County and District Attorneys Association, the Kansas Sheriffs’ Association, the Kansas Police Chiefs Association, the Kansas Peace Officers Association, the Midwest Innocence Project and the Innocence Project.

Senator Haley told the Lawrence Journal-World that the bill’s passage in the senate is a step forward in preventing eyewitness misidentification. The bill will now go on to the House.

“This is a good start towards insuring consistent identification standards,” Haley said. “I am genuinely glad to see common sense legislation finally proceed that will improve public participation and accuracy in identification.”

Read the Lawrence Journal-World story here.


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