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44 Law & Hum. Behav. 1 (2020)

handle is hein.journals/lwhmbv44 and id is 1 raw text is: AMERICAN                  American
PSYCHOLOGICAL             Psychology-Law
ASSOCIATION               Society

Law and Human Behavior

© 2020 American Psychological Association
ISSN: 0147-7307

2020, Vol. 44, No. 1, 1-2

The American Psychology-Law Society Scientific Review Paper on the
Collection and Preservation of Eyewitness Identification Evidence

Mark Costanzo
Claremont McKenna College
The lead article in this issue of Law and Human Behavior is
Policy and Procedure Recommendations for the Collection and
Preservation of Eyewitness Identification Evidence by Gary
Wells and colleagues (2020). This special article is an official
Scientific Review Paper (SRP) of the American Psychology-Law
Society (AP-LS), Division 41 of the American Psychological
Association (APA). This is only the third SRP that the AP-LS has
approved in its 52-year history. SRPs are meant to objectively
summarize the research literature in areas where there is a high
degree of scientific clarity and consensus. A second essential
goal of SRPs is to serve as science translation documents,
providing guidelines and recommendations useful to police,
lawyers, judges, legislators, and the public. This SRP admirably
fulfills both goals.
This SRP is the product of an extensive, multistep vetting
process designed to ensure that it represents the best research,
analysis, and recommendations the AP-LS can provide. The first
SRP presenting recommendations for lineups and photospreads in
gathering eyewitness evidence was published over two decades
ago (Wells et al., 1998). The possibility of an updated SRP on
eyewitness identification evidence was first discussed in 2016. The
topic and proposed authors were approved by the AP-LS Execu-
tive Committee in 2017. After the authors drafted the paper, it was
posted on the AP-LS website for comments from society members.
Next, the authors led a session at the American Psychological
Association Convention in 2018 to provide members with an
opportunity to publicly comment on the paper. The authors then
made revisions based on feedback from members of AP-LS and
the APA, and the revision was again posted on the AP-LS website
for comment. A session presenting the SRP was held at the annual
AP-LS conference in the spring of 2019. That session was well
Mark Costanzo, Department of Psychological Science, Claremont
McKenna College; Lora M. Levett, Department of Sociology and Crimi-
nology & Law, University of Florida.
This is an official statement of the American Psychology-Law Society,
Division 41 of the American Psychological Association, and does not
represent the position of the American Psychological Association or any of
its other Divisions or subunits.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lora M.
Levett, Department of Sociology and Criminology & Law, University of
Florida, P.O. Box 117330, Gainesville, FL 32611. E-mail: llevett@ufl.edu

Lora M. Levett
University of Florida
attended and generated additional comments about the paper.
Further changes were made to the paper in response to the feed-
back from that session. The revised paper was sent out to three
anonymous reviewers selected by the SRP Committee in consul-
tation with the AP-LS Executive Committee. Once the authors
incorporated feedback from the outside reviewers, they submitted
the paper to Law and Human Behavior for possible publication.
Four anonymous reviewers, an Associate Editor and the Editor-
in-Chief provided feedback during the peer-review process, result-
ing in two rounds of revisions and final acceptance for publication.
In December 2019, the AP-LS Executive Committee unanimously
approved the paper as an official SRP of the AP-LS. Through its
endorsement, the AP-LS signaled that the SRP represents the
consensus views of the membership, and that the AP-LS lends its
authority to the paper's conclusions and recommendations.
The SRP that follows is a result of this careful and deliberate
process and provides an up-to-date review of the scientific litera-
ture on the collection and preservation of eyewitness identification
evidence. It extends and updates the recommendations of the very
first SRP on the same topic (Wells et al., 1998). For two decades,
that paper contributed to changes in the practice of collecting
eyewitness identification evidence in the United States and abroad.
It also became the model for the U.S. Department of Justice
guidelines on collecting eyewitness identification evidence and
was disseminated to law enforcement agencies throughout the
country (Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence,
1999). Many states used the paper to help create laws mandating
science-based procedures for collecting eyewitness identification
evidence, and the paper served as the basis for workshops, educa-
tional seminars, trainings, expert testimony, and court decisions.
The four recommendations made in the original paper by Wells
and colleagues (1998) are retained in the new SRP. In addition,
scientific progress made over the past two decades compelled the
authors to add five new recommendations. The new recommenda-
tions for best practices concern prelineup interviews of witnesses,
the bases on which an officer should conduct a lineup, video-
recording of lineup procedures, and the avoidance of biasing
procedures (e.g., repeated lineups with the same witness and
suspect). Eyewitness identification is especially vulnerable to error
if law enforcement uses poor procedures to collect and test the
evidence. The memory distortions caused by flawed procedures
cannot be corrected by later using best practices. As a result, it is

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