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Should Polygraph Tests be Admissible at Trial as Valid Scientific Evidence - Literature review Example

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The purpose of the following review is to summarize the most recent developments in polygraph technology. Particularly, the writer of the review will seek to investigate the legitimacy of the application of polygraph as scientific evidence in courts…
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Should Polygraph Tests be Admissible at Trial as Valid Scientific Evidence
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Download file to see previous pages The first polygraph was created by William Marston in the 1920s. It was built based upon an existing medical instrument that recorded a person’s pulse and blood pressure. Marston was a Harvard-educated psychologist who began researching the idea of a “lie detector” in 1917. By 1923 he boasted a 95% accuracy rate of his machine and its ability to detect lying. The polygraph machines used today differ little from those built in the 1920s.
The literal translation of the word “polygraph” is “many writings.” This title is accurate in describing the charting done by the three components of the test. The machine uses a pneumatic tube to chart the depth of respiration, a blood pressure cuff to chart cardiovascular changes, and electrodes on the fingertips to measure galvanic skin conductance. These writings make up a chart of peaks and valleys that are interpreted by either a machine using a specific algorithm or a polygraph examiner. The idea behind the test is that lying creates stress for the person telling the lie, and this stress can be measured by changes in the above physiological responses. The use of the polygraph in the private sector is strictly regulated by the Polygraph Protection Act of 1988; however, use by government agencies is not as constrained.
According to White in his article Ask Me No Questions, Tell Me No Lies, the Pentagon compels over 23,000 polygraph exams each year, and the majority of the nation’s police and sheriff’s departments use polygraphs as part of their pre-employment screening. The FBI currently requires polygraphs of new agents, as do private companies performing government work, such as nuclear energy facilities, those that engage in the transportation or storage of toxic waste, and those that supply proprietary information, to name a few. Despite the fact that government agencies are exempt from the restrictions facing private employers regarding polygraph testing, there still remain questions as to the reliability and acceptability of the results they produce. ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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