Polygraph Usage

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Polygraph Use i

Should Polygraphs be used in Court Rooms as Admissible Evidence?

Ebony Barr

Psychology and the Legal System FP 6010

Professor Neely

December , 2010

Polygraph Use ii

Polygraph is widely rejected as pseudoscience by the scientific community. Prior to 1998 state and county courts allowed or could allow polygraph evidence to be admissible evidence to convict or prove guilt. Polygraphs should not be used in Court Rooms, the accuracy of the test have not and are yet to be proven. Because polygraphs are not accurate and can be manipulated they should not be used in pretrial or during the trial. Polygraphs affect the mental health world because most scientists do not rely on them or do not agree that they should be used in a court of law. Also known as, a "lie detector," the polygraph has a controversial history in U.S. law. First developed in the late nineteenth century, its modern incarnation is an electromechanical device that is attached to a subject's body during an interview. The discipline of polygraph is based on the theory that by recording involuntary physiological changes in the subject, the polygraph yields data that can be interpreted to determine whether the subject is telling the truth. The paper will support the opinion that polygraph test should not be admissible in court as evidence.

Polygraph Use 1
Should Polygraphs be used in Court Rooms as Admissible Evidence?

A polygraph which is often referred to as a lie detector test is an instrument that measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, breathing rhythms/ratios, and skin conductivity. The subject is asked series of questions; and it is believed that the deceptive answers will produce physiological responses that can be differentiated from those associated with non-deceptive answers. Polygraphs were being used outside the court room and inside as well. Polygraphs should not be used inside or outside the court room, if they were reliable evidence the Supreme Court and several other courts would have determined that they were admissible evidence already. Not only have courts not been receptive of polygraph test, the psychology world has not either. When a test can be manipulated so easily, the results could misread, or completely wrong, to base a person’s freedom or life on that would be inhuman. The United States makes a claim to have justice system that is fair, and it is unjust to allow a polygraph test to be used as evidence against someone on trial. When a person is faced with a criminal or a civil charge, it can, and most of the time does affect their life immensely, therefore if anything is to be relied on it should be evidence that is somewhat solid or at least clear and convincing. In the justice system, there are burdens of proof that must be met; the polygraph would not be ideal evidence to assist in meeting any of those burdens of proof. In order for evidence to be admissible, it must be relevant. Relevant evidence means evidence having any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without evidence. Polygraph test are not relevant evidence.

Polygraph Use 2
United States v. Scheffer was the first case where the Supreme Court issued a ruling with regard to the highly controversial matter of polygraph, or "lie-detector," testing. At issue was whether the per se exclusion of polygraph evidence offered by the accused in a military court violates the Sixth Amendment right to present a defense. United States v. Scheffer involved a former U.S. airman who was court-martialed for using methamphetamines, passing bad checks, and going AWOL. Yet he had passed a polygraph test asking whether he had used illegal drugs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces said the military's...
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