Vagaries of memory mean eyewitness testimony isn’t perfect
Gary Wells, Distinguished Professor of psychology at Iowa State University, has conducted controlled experiments since the 1970s that show how easily witnesses to a crime will pick the wrong person from a police lineup. Then, with only the slightest reinforcement, they become convinced and highly confident in their mistaken identification. Making this mistake then causes their memory to change to fit the person they mistakenly identified. Wells contends the legal system has been slow to respond to eyewitness science like his, but a National Academy of Sciences blue ribbon panel may help to change that.