Reasons to give Daily Pennsylvanian, PA

Daily Pennsylvanian, PA
Reasons to give
To the Editor:
The arrest of Penn student Bryan Warner ("Student held for attempted murder,"
DP, 2/6/06) raises a major policy question about the use of photo identification.
For years, police have presented victims with a group of photos of possible
suspects simultaneously, rather than one at a time in a sequence. That
procedure tends to produce high rates of false identification, according to
research by Gary Wells, a psychology professor at Iowa State University.
Since 2001, New Jersey police have been required to use sequential (one-at-atime) photo presentations to crime witnesses, which produce far fewer false
Warner's counsel should therefore challenge any use of a simultaneous photo
lineup in his case -- if that is what the Philadelphia Police did -- as unreliable and
unscientific evidence.
Lawrence Sherman
The author is the chairman of Penn's Department of Criminology