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Student Reactions to Exonerees: Differing Perceptions Regarding DNA Evidence, Mistaken Eyewitnesses and False Confessions

Victoria Hall, Master of Arts student, Forensic Psychology, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Rosemary Ricciardelli, Associate Professor (PhD McMaster University), Memorial University

Kimberley A. Clow, Associate Professor, Faculty of Social Science and Humanities, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Published April 19, 2018 by Technologies of Justice.

During a session titled Technology on Trial? Exploring the Use and Misuse of Evidence, Victoria Hall, Rosemary Ricciardelli and Kimberley A. Clow hosted a panel on student reactions to exonerees, and their differing perceptions regarding DNA evidence, mistaken eyewitnesses and false confessions. The session took place at the Technologies of Justice Conference, hosted at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology from January 26 to 27, 2018.



Hall, Ricciardelli and Clow posed the question, "What are the public views on exonerees and those who have been wrongfully convicted?." The presenters showed their research data on DNA evidence and exoneration. In their case study, they asked:

  • Does DNA evidence allow for a better view of exonerees?
  • Are people more confident interacting with exonerees who have been exonerated by DNA evidence?

During the panel they discussed their findings. The researchers found that although people exonerated by false confession are the viewed the worst, and people exonerated by DNA are the viewed the best, all wrongfully convicted exonerees are still stigmatized. They demonstrated how there is an overconfidence in DNA evidence, especially in the cases of miscarriages of justice. They highlight the need for further study, in a non-student sample, as well as better discussion and research on the topic, to provide a more diverse volume of studies and gathered data.