A police lineup is often the moment of truth in a criminal investigation. It’s also, say many experts, highly fallible. Of the 175 convictions overturned by DNA evidence, 75 percent were convicted largely because of eyewitness testimony that turned out to be mistaken, reports the Christian Science Monitor.
Those exonerations have energized efforts to reform the way police conduct lineups and get eyewitness identifications. A growing number of counties and states are adopting measures to improve accuracy and limit influences on witness memory. Now, though, a first-of-its-kind study from Illinois is casting doubt on a reform called “sequential double-blind.” That method shows witnesses photos of potential suspects one at a time, rather than all at once, and even the administrator doesn’t know who the suspect is. The study’s results – which suggest the old method was both more accurate and more likely to produce an identification – are a boost to police departments that have resisted lineup changes. Others say the study was flawed.