Police officers and other investigators are often so eager to identify a suspect that they may not care deeply about the potential of making a mistake. They can pressure people and lead witnesses, which is one reason why witness testimony isn’t always the strongest evidence for a criminal case.
Unfortunately, the rise of certain forms of digital technology has made it easier than ever before for law enforcement officers to make errors that can result in significant consequences for an innocent member of the public. These mistakes may be harder for people to spot because they are rooted in technological advances, not people.
Facial recognition software promises “a more secure future” wherein criminals cannot simply blend into the crowd after harming someone. By tracking specific facial features, like the shape of someone’s nose or skull, software can help connect people to criminal incidents. However, when it comes to standard criminal prosecution, facial recognition software has failed disastrously multiple times and has led to the arrest and prosecution of innocent individuals.
Why does facial recognition software fail?
There are many reasons why facial recognition software doesn’t do what it should. Sometimes, it is the angle at which the cameras capture an image that makes verifying a match difficult. Other times, issues with lighting could play a role. The race of the person accused is also a factor.
Darker-skinned individuals are more likely to end up wrongfully identified through facial recognition software, which is certainly a concern given the historical bias in policing against those of darker complexions. Facial recognition software is so questionable that most courts agree that it cannot be used as the sole source of evidence connecting someone to a criminal incident. There need to be other forms of evidence tying someone to the crime because of the risk of failure by the software.
Those misidentified need a robust defense strategy
Getting arrested for a crime that someone knows nothing about is a terrifying experience, and those who don’t even understand the charges against them may have a hard time planning to defend themselves in criminal court. Thankfully, there are means of defending against criminal charges based almost exclusively on facial recognition software.
Recognizing the shortcomings of a prosecutor’s case is often the starting point for a viable criminal defense strategy.