Colorado Eyewitness Identification Bill May Help Reduce Wrongful Convictions


In an op-ed published yesterday in the

Denver Post,

Innocence Project State Policy Advocate Amshula Jayaram and Executive Director of the Colorado District Attorneys Council Tom Raynes write in support of a bill that would require Colorado police to implement best practice eyewitness identification procedures. Senate Bill 58, which recently passed the Senate, will be taken up by the House Judiciary Committee this week.

The bill reflects what began as a year-long partnership and dialogue between the Office of the Attorney General, the Colorado District Attorneys Council, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, and the Innocence Project. This partnership focused on creating a collaborative effort to minimize error in eyewitness identification practices and to ultimately reduce the rate of wrongful convictions due to current identification procedures.

Jayaram and Raynes write:

Eyewitness misidentification is much more common than people might think. According to research on archival cases, 35 percent of eyewitnesses make identifications that are wrong. Roughly 72 percent of DNA exonerations resulted from a wrongful conviction that involved misidentification, including cases wherein as many as eight witnesses misidentified the same individual.

Wrongful convictions not only harm the innocent, they also pose a serious threat to public safety. If investigators are focused on an innocent person, the real perpetrator remains free to harm others. Real perpetrators were found in 92 of the nation’s 233 DNA exonerations that stemmed from a wrongful conviction involving misidentification. Those individuals went on to commit 102 additional violent crimes, many of which were rapes and murders.

Read the entire op-ed.

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