In what is a terrific step forward in reducing wrongful convictions resulting from eyewitness misidentification, the Florida State Senate unanimously passed a bill submitted by Sen. Joe Negron that requires double-blind lineups in all criminal investigations. Senate Bill 1206, also known as the Eyewitness Identification Reform Act, requires law enforcement agencies to assure that the individual administering a photographic lineup doesn’t know which photo represents the suspect.
The Lakeland Ledger explains the importance of the reforms outlined in Senate Bill 1206:
A detective’s unknowing smile, smirk, nod or head shake can act as an affirmation to a witness that he chose the right person…From that point on, the picture that the witness views in his head is the one from the photo lineup, not from the crime scene. That indicator would not be possible when there is a third party who has no knowledge of the case or the suspect.
Senator Negron is a member of the Florida Innocence Commission, which was established last year by the State Supreme Court to examine wrongful convictions. So far, Florida cases account for 12 of the nation’s 267 DNA exonerations. The Innocence Project in Florida stated that in nine of these cases, convictions resulted from failures in identification procedure that are, at least partially, addressed by the Eyewitness Identification Reform Act.
On April 4, the Florida State Senate passed the bill 6-0. Senate Bill 1206 is a step in the right direction toward reducing one of the most common causes of wrongful convictions – a step that Pennsylvania could certainly use as well.
Senate Bill 1206 (2011) – The Florida Senate
The Ledger – Eyewitness Identification Bill Would Require Double-Blind Line-ups
The Ledger – Document: Eyewitness Identification Reform Act
The Florida Independent – Innocence Commission Endorses Bill Addressing Police Photo Lineups