Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Wednesday signed into law legislation requiring all police agencies in Louisiana to adopt eyewitness identification procedures aimed at preventing mistaken identifications and wrongful convictions, reports NOLA.com. At Edwards’ side during the signing ceremony was Robert Jones, a New Orleans man who spent 23 years in prison on a wrongful conviction that hinged on witness misidentification. “It could prevent atrocities from happening like what happened to me and other guys,” Jones said of the new law.
The legislation mandates that all police agencies in the state must adopt the Louisiana Sheriff’s Executive Management Institute model policy on eyewitness identification procedures, or write its own policy that adapts best practices. The model policy calls for, among other procedures, blind administration of photo lineups and instructions that the suspect may or may not be in the lineup. Misidentifications were a factor in 73 percent of the 2,000 exoneration cases in the United States since 1989, the National Registry of Exonerations found. Of all the exonerations cases tracked by the group, eyewitness misidentifications made unintentionally were a factor in 30 percent of the cases.