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Because people forget things, the amount of time between their experience of an event and their identification of its perpetrator is relevant in judging the credibility of their identification.Most important, according to memory expert Elizabeth Loftus, their memories can be altered by their exposure to postevent information.
According to the Innocence Project at Yeshiva University, of the first 230 people exonerated by DNA evidence, at least 70 percent had originally been convicted primarily on the basis of eyewitness testimony.
In these cases, the wrongly convicted spent an average of 12 years in jail.
One theory leads us to believe that what race and status the victim and criminal are, effect the encoding of memory.
In this study, the subjects were 168 university undergraduates enrolled in an introductory psychology class. This adds some bias because of the emotion one contributes to the study.
Experts on memory raise additional questions about the reliability of eyewitness testimony.
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Memory does not provide an objective video recording of an event. Research shows that after short periods of time, memories of details decline significantly and thereafter decline gradually.
Qualities of the circumstances of observation or of the observer can make it difficult to identify the perpetrator of a crime.
It may be too dark or the witness may be too far away.
Eyewitness testimony is testimony about what one claims to have seen or experienced through one of his or her other senses.
For instance, one might claim to have seen or experienced a robbery or an assault.