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Witness Problems

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Edward G. Roberts View Drop Down

Joined: 12/May/2012
Location: Dallas, Texas
Posts: 21
Post Options Post Options   Quote Edward G. Roberts Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Witness Problems
    Posted: 13/Feb/2013 at 10:54am
A fascinating article!

I've recently read about how poorly even trained professionals can tell when someone is lying during an interview, and now this shakes the foundation even more from another direction.

One tool for investigators has always been the "change" in the story provided to law enforcement versus that provided to insurance and private investigators at a later date.  Is there a forensic filter, a psychological framework, these changes can be put through to help differentiate between false memories and deceitful claims?

On that note, what do you think of rewarding witnesses, either through money or through other considerations?  Here is another recent case of DNA-related exoneration, but as paragraphs 14 and 15 reveal, questionable testimony had been used to convict Mr. Alredge:

And finally, it is interesting that college kids can be pressured into false confessions, but what of people already in the criminal justice system?  One would guess them to be even more susceptible for reasons including education level, environmental pressures, prison reputations, etc.?  What percentage of case closings could be the result of false jailhouse confessions?
Edward G. Roberts, CFI
Firensics, Inc.
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Laura Billon View Drop Down

Joined: 13/Feb/2013
Posts: 1
Post Options Post Options   Quote Laura Billon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14/Mar/2013 at 10:59pm
Thanks for your questions! There is no "forensic Filter" that you reference, but one thing that we have seen in law enforcement (as you know and I reference in my article) is the Cognitive Interview which allows / enables individuals to go back to the time of an incident, a scene, an experience, etc; that they lived through. When one is reliving an event that they actually did in fact experience, it is crucial to pay attention to emotions and phrases of feelings in their stories. False memories will not contain such descriptions as individuals did not live through said experience. Deceitful claims can be better recognized when you have established a rapport and therefore a baseline of which one will often unconsciously stray from when they are confabulating.

I have never been one in favor of rewarding witnesses (or kids for report cards, for that matter). While I do offer praise when they are helpful, I do not believe in offering rewards and instead make mention that the "reward" may be a cleaner conscience (assuming they have one!). 

Education and social environment are influential in false confessions as well as one seeing a reward for themselves, i.e. attention, reverence by peers, extra protection, etc. I am not about closings based upon false confessions, but we all hear of it all the time. I would love to explore that further!
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