According to the Houston Chronicle, most of the Texas prison inmates who have been exonerated by new DNA evidence were originally sent to prison because of faulty eyewitness identifications. “Eyewitness ID reform is the No. 1 priority of people who want to reduce the number of wrongful convictions,” Edwin Colfax, the state program director for the Justice Project, a criminal justice reform organization, told the newspaper. “It is the single most important thing we can do.”
Colfax said erroneous eyewitness testimony was the key ingredient in 24 of the 30 Texas cases that have been reversed after belated DNA testing.
“I’ve had 11 cases of people freed from prison, and in eight of those cases eyewitness ID was the primary or only evidence used to convict,” said Nina Morrison, an attorney with Project Innocence. “It remains among the most powerful evidence the jury can hear. It’s very, very hard for jurors to disbelieve someone taking the stand and pointing the finger at someone.”