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Eyewitness ID

According to the Innocence Project, approximately 69% of the more than 375 DNA-based exonerations nationwide, between 1989 and 2020, involved mistaken eyewitness identifications. However, there are ways to prevent this, including reforms to police department procedures.

Litigation    State Reform
Additional Resources on Eyewitness ID

NACDL supports changes in eyewitness procedures that are proven to increase the reliability of eyewitness testimony without impeding police investigations. Among the most important reforms is the adoption “double blind” sequential lineup procedures, in which suspects are shown one by one to the witness. This reduces the possibility of the witness picking the person who looks most like the culprit. This also means that the procedure is conducted by a police officer who does not know the identity of the suspect, which thus prevents the officer from unconsciously or consciously providing cues to the witness.


NACDL v. Evanston (Flawed IL Pilot Study and Mecklenburg Report) 

New Jersey v. Henderson (Eyewitness ID Admissibility and Jury Instruction) and Perry v. New Hampshire

Eyewitness ID State Reform

In 2021, the Colorado legislature passed HB21-1142, which limits the use of showups by law enforcement and requires law enforcement agencies to collect certain data each time the technique is used. 

Consider joining NACDL’s State Criminal Justice Network (SCJN) to exchange information, share resources, and develop strategies for promoting policies related to eyewitness identification and other pressing issues.  

State Criminal Justice Network


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