5. The Wrong Man: What causes misidentification?

5. The Wrong Man: What causes misidentification?

By BBC Radio 5 Live

A man breaks into Jennifer Thompson’s apartment, severs her phone wires and rapes her. Jennifer studies his face, hoping to remember enough details so that she can identify him later.

In a police line-up, Jennifer is able to point out Ronald Cotton as her rapist and in two separate trials he is convicted of rape and burglary. He is sentenced to life in prison plus fifty-four years. It seems like the case is resolved. There’s only one problem: Cotton is innocent.

On this episode of Bad People, presenters Julia Shaw and Sofie Hagen discuss why we should all be weary of our memory when identifying a person of a different race.

Warning: This episode contains strong language and references to sexual violence.

Archive credits: This episode contains audio from CBS News and CDI (La Ciudad de Ias Ideas) International Festival.


Presenters: Dr. Julia Shaw and Sofie Hagen Producer: Louisa Field Assistant Producer: Simona Rata Music: Matt Chandler Series Editor: Rami Tzabar

Commissioning Producer: Hannah Rose Commissioning Executive: Dylan Haskins Commissioning Editor: Jason Phipps

Bad People is a BBC Audio Science Production for BBC Sounds


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