Police departments across the country are starting to realize that witnesses who falsely identify suspects are a major cause of wrongful convictions. About three quarters of the 157 people who were freed by DNA evidence were originally convicted because of a bad eyewitness i.d. The Innocence Institute is running a series on false eyewitness i.d.s in Pennsylvania in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette next week. A story in the New York Sun shows the problem is a major issue in that state, too.
New York ranks second among states with the highest number of wrongful convictions. In one case, a man was exonerated after serving 8 ½ years in prison based on faulty eyewitness identification procedures performed by the NYPD. The problem continues to exist in New York because of a state law requiring police to use live lineups and the failure of police there to embrace reforms that help prevent false i.d.'s.