Picking Cotton Essay

1670 Words Dec 11th, 2012 7 Pages
Picking Cotton
In the past decade, eyewitness testimonies have cast a shadow on what is wrong with the justice system in today’s society. Before we had the advanced technology, we have today, eyewitness testimonies were solid cold-hard facts when it came to proving the defendant was guilty. However, time has changed and eyewitness testimonies have proven to be the leading causes of wrongful convictions due to misidentification. The Thompson and Cotton case is a perfect example of how eyewitness testimonies can put an innocent man behind bars.
Jennifer Thompson was your average young independent adult trying to earn a degree at Elon College in Burlington, North Carolina. She had a boyfriend, Paul, who commuted from Burlington to Chapel
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“I’m afraid of knives,” said Jennifer during the scene of the rape (Cannino et al. 15).
The third mistake in the Thompson & Cotton case was the fallacy of being able to identify an assailant that is a different race than the victim or eyewitness; this is also known as “cross-racial identification.” It has been studied over the past twenty-five years that people within their own race have difficulties positively identifying someone of other races due to familiarity of your personal appearance and its similarities to other people that share the same race. With no racial biases, this study is accurate in the regards to exclude racial animosity in the part of the viewer according to Meissner & Brigham.
The fourth mistake in the eyewitness testimony in the Thompson & Cotton case led to the misidentification because Jennifer attempted to translate her memories of her assailant in the darkness of her apartment. “I struggled to focus my eyes in the fuzzy dark of my room” (Cannino et al. 12). Lighting is a crucial aspect when viewing a perpetrator. Although, Jennifer was rather close to her attacker, she could not positively identify him during the line-up.
The fifth mistake in the Thompson & Cotton case was the process of the line-up held by the police of Burlington. Throughout the line-up process, Jennifer was

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