This may sound like the plot of a bad CSI episode, but Texas police have been using hypnosis as a valid method to obtain evidence during criminal investigations.
The phony method has been used for years in the state and it has sent more than 50 men and women to prison.
Most states don’t allow testimony based on hypnosis, and yet information obtained from these types of sessions can be admitted as evidence during criminal trials in Texas, even though most scientists agree that hypnosis can create new memories and lead to wrongful convictions.
“Four people [in Texas are] currently on death row and 11 have been executed already just based on hypnosis testimony,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa in a report made by The Dallas Morning News.
It was only last January that the Texas Department of Public Safety ended its hypnosis program, which had performed more than 1,700 hypnosis sessions in the last 40 years.
On Monday the Texas Senate debated over a bill that aims to ban this practice for good. This will be the first time ever that lawmakers consider the subject legally. “People’s lives are at stake,” said Rep. Eddie Lucio at the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence. “We cannot have such a volatile procedure be a deciding factor in life-altering decisions that are made in courts.”
“Our memory is often so incomplete that we cannot even recall the appearance of items we see every day, like a penny, well enough to draw it. Why should we be relying on our fallible memories, and a technique like hypnosis, to convict individuals of crimes and send them away for life?” asked Joseph Dunsmoor, a memory expert and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Dell Medical School. “Our memory is not a literal reconstruction of past events.”
The bill, which had been presented before by Rep. Hinojosa, awaits to be passed. “Let’s don’t miss this chance again,” said Scott Henson, the policy director of criminal justice nonprofit Just Liberty, who even compared the use of hypnosis to using tarot card readers as a way to obtain evidence.