West Virginia Leads The Way On ID Reform

In earlier posts, we’ve discussed the West Virginia Eyewitness Reform bill. That bill is now a law. Musical version here.

A few things changed in the legislative process. As Ben noted in his February post, earlier forms of the bill mandated specific procedural reforms. The final version contains a few specific directions; it tells police to provide three important instructions to witnesses before conducting a lineup or photo array (the culprit might or might not be present, that the witness is not required to make an identification, and that it is just as important to exclude innocent people as to identify the culprit) and requires police to keep a written record of all lineups and photo arrays. Other than that, however, further work is left to a task force, whose mandate is to develop guidelines “that are consistent with the reliable evidence supporting best practices.”

It will be interesting to see what the new task force proposes. Its report is due in December of 2008. In the meantime, congratulations to West Virginia for helping to lead the way on this important reform issue.

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