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Facial recognition technology and eye witnesses

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

Facial recognition technology is one of the most controversial topics in law enforcement in places like Yakima, Washington. Supporters believe that it is essential to putting more criminals in jail. Opponents are concerned about its biases and the possibility of false arrests. Law enforcement officials must use this technology wisely if they hope to garner convictions that will hold up in court.

What is facial recognition?

Facial recognition is a software tool that is being increasingly used by law enforcement. It is the ability of a computer to compare two faces from two different images and replicate the details from a person’s face. This technology has a wide variety of applications in many fields. One of these is in the field of eyewitnesses. Facial recognition can create a face from a wide variety of descriptions and add that face to a lineup. Then, that same technology can aid law enforcement and eyewitnesses in identifying the person who committed a crime. It can be enormously helpful in the many instances where an eyewitness cannot make a direct identification of a suspect.

The problem with eyewitnesses

One of the most blatant flaws of facial recognition software is its failure rate. Failures can help bolster a criminal defense strategy while also leading to innocent people being convicted. The software has a high failure rate when it comes to identifying different groups of people. An algorithm that is effective at identifying white faces may not be as effective at identifying people of color. Facial recognition technology can help emphasize the biases of eyewitness testimony.

Eyewitnesses can sometimes be guided and goaded into making the choice that their biases and law enforcement want them to make. This tendency can help lead to facial recognition software being used to craft a narrative that is not true but leads to a person being arrested. All law enforcement entities that use facial recognition technology with eyewitnesses need to be aware of these flaws and biases before moving forward.


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