News 02.22.11

Texas Bill Seeks to Improve Eyewitness Identification Procedures (Updated)

[Updated 9/2/10 at 5:19 p.m.:

The bill passed committee

earlier this afternoon.]

Eyewitness misidentification is the single greatest cause of wrongful convictions nationwide, playing a role in more than 75% of convictions overturned through DNA testing.  In Texas, it has been a factor is more than 80% of wrongful convictions across the state, according to NBC affiliate KXAN.

A new bill sponsored by former prosecutor Rep. Pete Gallego would improve the way photo identifications are conducted by law enforcement. According to the report, the law would not allow the person conducting the lineup to know who the suspect is.

“The idea perhaps is that the person who is the lead investigator should not be the person organizing the lineup,” said Gallego. “There’s really nothing more basic in our system than making sure that the person that you’re putting in prison is the right person.”

The

Innocence Project of Texas

, which supports Gallego’s bill, estimates there are 2,000 to 3,000 people in Texas prisons who have been wrongfully convicted.

“Our memories are not like cameras,” said Innocence Project of Texas Policy Director Scott Henson. “Eyewitness testimony is trace evidence so like all trace evidence, it can be contaminated if it’s not gathered properly.”

This morning, recent DNA exoneree Cornelius Dupree and several other Texas exonerees spoke before the Criminal Jurisprudence Committee in support of the bill.

Watch Dupree and Sen. Rodney Ellis

discuss the problems with eyewitness identification

.


Read the full story

.

Learn about

the causes of eyewitness misidentification

and

how to reform eyewitness identification procedures

.

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