NACDL Denied Access to Chicago Sham Lineup Study Data

A state court in Illinois today just denied NACDL access to the data underlying the controversial Illinois/Mecklenburg Report on police identification procedures, which means the widely denounced results remain cloaked in secrecy.

NACDL has stated that they will appeal the decision. We’ll report further as we have more info.

UPDATE: More news coverage here. Of particular interest from the comments at the Chicago Tribune from an individual who claims first-hand experience with the way lineups are conducted:

Here is first hand knowledge of how this works.
About ten years ago while preforming my job, I notice two guys breaking into a house. It was doing a holiday season. Its a lot of detail so I will spare you all the descriptions.
About a month later I was called to go the courthouse and identify the robbers. One id at the scene, the other got away, but they did catch him later when the other guy squealed.
When I showed up at the courthouse, I was let upstairs to their lineup. Mind you it had been a month later when I got called to come to id the suspect. I couldremember curtains facts, like his height, what he wore and what he had on his head,I just had to see the person to be sure, once you see them your memory comes back. That being said, even though I could pick the guy out, here are some of the sehemes the cops used.
1 they bring in about 6 guys
2 five of them are laughing
3 the guilty one is always center with the brightest light on him
4 police suggest to you in certain ways to look closely at a suspect, even when you are sure.
5 when you pick out the one they suspect, expect a pat on the back.
That was my experience.

And then, with unintentional irony, from a user tagging him/herself “the truth,” this response:

“4 police suggest to you in certain ways to look closely at the suspect in the middle, even when you are sure.
5 when you have picked out the one they suspect, expect a pat on the back.
That was my experience. ”

So? The right guy went to jail. Sounds good to me.

Unfortunately, that’s exactly the problem with wrongful convictions, in which Illinois is second only to Texas: it’s always the police suspect who gets picked, but it’s not always the police suspect who committed the crime.  Unfortunately this “more convictions = more justice” mentality is all too common, and yet this is exactly the scenario that has sent the wrong people to prison in Illinois and across the country since the advent of the police lineup.

This is also exactly what reformists, like those seeking the data from this field study, are seeking to change — by implementing procedures that are specifically engineered to test the independent memory of witnesses, rather than sham procedures that merely rubber-stamp the suspicion of the police, who are in many cases simply wrong.

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One Response to NACDL Denied Access to Chicago Sham Lineup Study Data

  1. […] a post on the Eyewitness Identification Reform blog points to an interesting first-hand account of Chicago’s lineup procedures posted in the comments section of the Chicago Tribune […]

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