LJAF is pursuing research that will address important gaps in the scientific foundation of certain forensic disciplines and will advance best practices throughout the field. Our first major initiative in this area is focused on improving the accuracy of eyewitness identifications (IDs). An estimated 77,000 suspects are identified by eyewitnesses each year. When these identifications are incorrect, they can both hamper the ability of law enforcement to solve a crime and hinder the administration of justice since a guilty person may remain on the street—free to offend again—while an innocent individual is behind bars.
LJAF funded the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct the first-ever comprehensive evaluation of the state of the science of eyewitness IDs. After an in-depth review of the existing research on these identifications, NAS issued a report that provided recommendations on how to improve the administration of lineups and photo arrays and ensure the accurate and appropriate use of eyewitness evidence.
LJAF is using this information to develop a software application that will assist police in conducting eyewitness IDs quickly, easily, and accurately. In addition, we are working to identify potential high-impact research projects in other disciplines that are frequently used in criminal investigations and prosecutions.