Are Current Eyewitness Identification Procedures Leading to Wrongful Convictions? Research Proposal The united States criminal Justice system prides itself on being fair and just. Even If it is one of the best systems in existence, it is not flawless.
Wrongful convictions continue to occur despite existing safeguards aimed at limiting wrongful convictions. According to the Global Registry of Claims of Innocence, approximately 15% of inmates claim to be innocent nationwide (2014).Based on exoneration rates, of the 15% claiming innocence between one and five percent of inmates are truly innocent Global Registry of Claims of Innocence, 2014). Several factors prevent wrongfully convicted individuals from proving his or her innocence. Inaccurate eyewitness identification is the most common element in all-wrongful convictions.
Consistent reform of eyewitness Identification procedures nationwide would decrease wrongful conviction rates.The cost for housing one inmate in a minimum-security federal prison is approximately $21 ,OHO per year while the cost for housing one inmate in a maximum-security prison Is approximately $33,000 per year. With Incarceration rates, more than four times what they were in 1 980, prisons are overcrowded, and he financial burdens fall on taxpayers (Klein & Solar, 2013). Although these costs are high, they are not as high as the costs resulting from a wrongful conviction.In 2011, an investigation conducted by The Better Government Association determined that taxpayers in Illinois have paid approximately $214 million since 1976 because of 85 wrongful convictions (2014). Increased awareness of causes of wrongful convictions, as well as awareness of factors that prevent exoneration would reduce wrongful convictions. The proposed research uses the following definitions for wrongful conviction and exonerate. Wrongful conviction refers to a person accused of a crime which as a result of subsequent investigation proves erroneous” (Dummied, 2014).
According to US Legal, “exonerate refers to a state where a person convicted of a crime Is later proved to be Innocent” (Useless, 2014). For the purpose of this research study, exoneration will only refer to individuals that are fully relieved of all previous charges and will not include sentence reductions or individuals released as a result of a legal technicality. Eyewitness Identification refers to a witness “who has actually seen an event and can so testify in court” (Useless, 2014).The problem of wrongful convictions includes a wide range of factors, which may contribute to a person being wrongfully convicted; this research will only focus on eyewitness identification methods.
Another limitation on this proposed research is that there will not be a person present to answer questions to ensure proper understanding of the questions to obtain the most accurate results. Additionally, the surveys allow for seductive responses, wanly can De Doolittle to trend walkout Interpretation to ten researchers.To determine if consistent reformation of current eyewitness identification methods will decrease wrongful convictions rates, the research will include the use of qualitative and quantitative studies. The proposed method to collect data for this research includes archival research of existing data and studies in conjunction with online surveys completed by employees of the Innocence Project, questionnaires completed by exonerated individuals, and questionnaires completed by individuals currently incarcerated but claiming innocence.
The information will provide quantitative data to analyze and reveal areas of opportunity within the criminal Justice system. Additionally, information obtained from current employees of the Innocence Project will provide qualitative data that will assist in understanding some of the most common barriers that prevent convicted individuals from proving their claim of innocence. The combination of qualitative and quantitative data will provide factual data and opinions of individuals with a stake in this issue.This information will highlight the most beneficial areas to concentrate reformation efforts to reduce wrongful convictions. Researchers will compile statistics on crime and exoneration rates from states with high rates of crime, as well as states that have low tastes of crime. Information concerning eyewitness identification methods in each state will also be gathered so that it can be determined if different methods affect the results of convictions that are based on eyewitness identification alone.
Questionnaires will be sent to all living individuals exonerated of all charges since 1989, provided by the National Registry of Exoneration. The questionnaires will seek specifics on initial charges, time served, evidence used to overturn the original charges, and hurdles that prevent inmates’ access to post-conviction motions. Some f the questions included on the questionnaire are: 1) what was the alleged crime and charge(s) of your conviction? 2) How much time did you serve before you were exonerated? 3) What was the evidence used to convict you? ) What was the evidence used to overturn your conviction? 5) Was the same evidence presented during your trial? 6) What barriers, if any, prevent inmates from seeking Justice sooner? The surveys administered to Innocence Project attorneys will seek to identify the most prevalent causes of wrongful convictions and barriers that prevent the pursuit of more wrongful convictions. Some of the survey questions include 1) how long have you been practicing law? 2) In your estimate, how many wrongful convictions occur every year? 3) What is the leading cause of wrongful convictions? ) What are the other causes for wrongful convictions? 5) Is there anything that could have been done differently to avoid the wrongful conviction? Finally, researchers will send questionnaires to the list of inmates currently incarcerated but claiming innocence, provided by the Global Registry of Claims of Innocence. The questionnaires will include questions such as 1) what was the alleged crime and hare(s) of your conviction? 2) What was the evidence used to convict you? 3) How long have you been incarcerated? 4) What evidence is available to prove your innocence? ) What are the barriers causing hurdles to prove your innocence? Researchers will mail the questionnaires to all living individuals exonerated since 1989. There will be scheduled follow-ups with individuals to encourage timely responses, similar to those used for the online surveys sent to all Innocence Project attorneys.
Because ten study Involves a relatively small population, a S Incentive heck will be mailed to respondents for their participation. Additionally, the team will send out reminders to all non-respondents, in an effort to obtain the highest return rates.The initial reminder will go to all non-respondents one week following the issuance of the link. A second follow-up message will be sent to the remaining non- respondents two weeks following the date of the initial reminder. Finally, six weeks from the date the survey link was sent to all Innocent Project employees, a final notice reminder will be sent to remaining non-respondents. Survey questions can be found n Appendix 1 of research proposal.
The states with the most exoneration’s and states with the highest number of incarcerated inmates claiming innocence will be compared to one another.Results from the researchers questionnaire sent to exonerated individuals, Innocence Project attorneys, and incarcerated inmates claiming innocence will be analyzed thoroughly based off the information of the individual’s charges, sentence served, reasons they were wrongfully convicted, key evidence that reversed the initial charges, and reasons that made it difficult for inmates to have access to post-conviction procedures. Feedback from the Innocence Project attorneys and incarcerated but claiming innocent inmates will also be analyzed.These results will be compared and put together for an explanation regarding the reasons that lead to wrongful convictions. Results leading to inaccurate eyewitness identification as the top reason that leads toward wrongful conviction and poor development of eyewitness identification procedures would confirm the hypothesis. However, if results showed otherwise, with inaccurate eyewitness identification as not the most common element and statistics show eyewitness identification procedures are frequently developed and improved, this type of result will discomfort the researchers hypothesis.