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Posted: Jul 24 2006, 11:34 PM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 17-March 06
I found this here :: CSI Effect Wikipedia
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The "CSI Effect" is a reference to the phenomenon of popular television shows such as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation", "Law & Order", and "Crossing Jordan" raising crime victims' and jury members' real-world expectations of forensic science, especially crime scene investigation and DNA testing. This is said to have changed the way many trials are presented today, in that prosecutors are pressured to deliver more forensic evidence in court.
Academia is also said to feel this effect. Universities have seen an increase in students enrolling in forensic science and related science programs. There has been criticism from police departments that, in an effort to increase their student numbers, universities have been offering unsuitable courses, leaving graduates unprepared for real-world forensic work. The traditional academic route followed by a would-be forensic scientist has been to pursue a primary (bachelor's) degree in a general-science subject such as chemistry or biology, followed by a suitable postgraduate course or some type of in-service training.
Highly publicized trials such as those of Scott Peterson, Robert Blake and O.J. Simpson have also drawn many people into forensics. Basic-cable TV networks like Court TV, Discovery Channel and A&E also carry many programs depicting forensic investigations of actual cases, such as "I, Detective", "The New Detectives", "Body Of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman", and "American Justice".
On the CSI and L&O shows, toxicology and DNA tests often seem to be instantaneous, whereas actual results can take months. Blurry photos and video can be greatly magnified and sharpened to clearly reveal the most minute details, and audio recordings can be similarly processed, to an unrealistic degree.
Also, on some shows (e.g., the CSI family and Cold Case), eyewitness testimony is presented in the form of flashback scenes, creating the impression that the witness is being absolutely truthful and has perfect memory of the events they are describing.
The CSI Effect in the courtroom and in the criminal mind
Prospective students and other people who overestimate the reality-basis of shows such as CSI may develop unreasonable expectations of actual forensic practitioners. Although the technologies lauded on these fictional programs are found in real crime labs, they often require much more time and deliver answers more equivocal in real life than on television. Analysts worry that people will come to believe that real criminalist science has become as swift and certain as we have always wished justice to be. DNA evidence in particular is expected more and more by jurors whether it is relevant or not in a given case. Some potential jurors find themselves, during voir dire, being asked whether they are viewers of shows such as CSI.
The "CSI effect" is also altering how crimes are committed. Tammy Klein, a criminalist for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, and other criminal experts have noticed an increase in criminal cases in which suspects burn or tamper with evidence(e.g., using bleach to destroy DNA evidence), or attempt to carefully clean the crime scene of trace evidence such as hairs and clothing fibers. For example, critics cite a particular murder case in Trumbull County, Ohio. The prime suspect in this case, described as a CSI fan, murdered a mother and daughter. He then used bleach to wash his hands of blood and covered the interior of his car with blankets to avoid transferring blood as he transported the corpses, which he then burned along with his clothes and cigarette butts (which he feared would yield trace amounts of his DNA). He attempted to throw remaining evidence into a local lake, including the murder weapon, a crowbar, but was unable to dispose of the evidence due to the lake's surface being frozen. The surviving evidence was later recovered by investigators and the suspect arrested.
A more sanguine view would suggest that these programs send criminals the message that no matter how much they try to cover up their crimes, forensic scientists can track them down. (As Delko said on the February 6, 2006 episode of the "CSI:Miami" spinoff, "Criminals only clear away what they can see.") Criminals who try to clean up a scene risk leaving evidence of the clean-up itself which may be traced back to them. Other crime shows—"Diagnosis Murder", for instance—feature episodes in which doctors and police themselves use the access they have to information to commit crimes in ways that are difficult to detect. Indeed, even a century before DNA evidence came into prominence, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes once remarked, "When a doctor does go wrong he is the first of criminals."
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