The Austin Police Department “meets the minimum legal requirements” for the administration of live and photo lineups of criminal suspects, but “does little to ensure that its lineup procedures provide the best evidence possible in any given case,” according to the non-profit The Justice Project. The Austin Chronicle says the group contacted more than 1,000 police departments across Texas requesting policies and procedures for photo and live lineup procedures; 750 departments responded, but just 88 had written protocols for the administration of lineups. Even those are “largely inadequate,” the group said.
That’s troubling news for criminal justice reformers: faulty eyewitness identification has played a role in 75% of the 223 exonerations nationwide. In Texas, mistaken identification has been implicated in 82% of the 38 cases where a defendant was exonerated by DNA. Texas leads the nation in the number of DNA exonerations. TJP is calling for legislation that would improve the quality of eyewitness identifications and implement best practices for the administration of lineups. “This overall lack of sound scientifically-based policy indicates that the state of Texas must pass legislation that requires departments to adopt written policies that implement best practices for the conduct of eyewitness identification procedures,” reads the report.