PENNY BEERNTSEN IS INTERVIEWED ABOUT FALSE EYEWITNESS IDENTIFICATION FOR THE DOCUMENTARY TRUE MEMORIES AND OTHER FALSEHOODS
 

True Memories and Other Falsehoods

The Innocence Project estimates that 20,000 people are incarcerated in the United States for crimes they did not commit. Of the 2000+ cases exonerated to-date, over 69% involved mistaken eyewitness identification, and 27% included a false confession. Currently, the majority of police investigators in the United States undergo training, which encourages practices such as lying to a suspect if it will produce a disclosure, reasoning that an innocent person would never confess to a crime they did not commit. However, the advent of DNA evidence has proven that people do confess to crimes they did not commit and current methods can and do contribute to the production of detailed false memories and beliefs. 

Training, and the implementation of specific measures such as promptly obtaining eyewitness statements, filming suspect and witness interviews from beginning to end, and educating investigators regarding confirmation bias and suggestive questioning can significantly improve outcomes.

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