What is the "CSI effect"

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brian
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Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:52 am

What is the "CSI effect"

Post by brian » Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:29 pm

April 25, 2010: Article in The April 24-30th 2010 magazine The Economist entitled "The CSI Effect"
"Television dramas that rely on forensic science to solve crimes are affecting the administration of justice" and a new phrase has entered the criminological lexicon: the “CSI effect” after shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation”
It has been defined as
  • the phenomenon in which jurors hold unrealistic expectations of forensic evidence and investigation techniques, and have an increased interest in the discipline of forensic science.
Evan Durnal of the University of Central Missouri’s Criminal Justice Department has collected evidence from a number of studies to show that exposure to television drama series that focus on forensic science has altered the American legal system in complex and far-reaching ways. His conclusions have just been published in Forensic Science International.
The most obvious symptom of the CSI effect is that jurors think they have a thorough understanding of science they have seen presented on television, when they do not.
See the article "The CSI Effect"

Information on Durnal's paper Crime scene investigation (as seen on TV)
Abstract
  • A mysterious green ooze is injected into a brightly illuminated and humming machine; 10 s later, a printout containing a complete biography of the substance is at the fingertips of an attractive young investigator who exclaims “we found it!” We have all seen this event occur countless times on any and all of the three CSI dramas, Cold Cases, Crossing Jordans, and many more. With this new style of “infotainment” (Surette, 2007 [13]), comes an increasingly blurred line between the hard facts of reality and the soft, quick solutions of entertainment. With these advances in technology, how can crime rates be anything but plummeting as would-be criminals cringe at the idea of leaving the smallest speck of themselves at a crime scene? Surely there are very few serious crimes that go unpunished in today's world of high-tech, fast-paced gadgetry. Science and technology have come a great distance since Sir Arthur Conan Doyle first described the first famous forensic scientist (Sherlock Holmes), but still have light-years to go.
Conclusion
  • The CSI effect, as presented today is a far-reaching phenomenon in our criminal justice system. It both positively and negatively affects nearly all parts and pieces of the criminal process beginning with the time a crime is discovered to the day a suspect is sentenced. It is not the fault of the media that these types of effects occur. At no time has CBS or NBC, or ABC purported these television dramas to be a 100% accurate reflection of true life crime labs. It is in fact our society that likes to envision that sexy, smart, omniscient person that will be working on our side, should some false accusations arise. The CSI effect is very real. It may not influence every juror one way or another, but it most certainly has influence on the criminal justice system as a whole.
To order Durnal's paper Crime scene investigation (as seen on TV)
NOTE: Ref (13) in abstract refers to : R. Surette, Media, Crime, and Criminal Justice: Images and Realities, 3rd ed.,
Thomson-Wadsworth, Belmont, CA, 2007
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brian
Posts: 501
Joined: Tue Jul 14, 2009 10:52 am

Re: What is the "CSI effect"

Post by brian » Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:36 pm

A related article on the "CSI effect" appeared in a 2007 "New Yorker article by Jeffrey Toobin "The CSI Effect: The truth about forensic science."
The article includes some history of forensic science. For example:
  • In 1910, Victor Balthazard, a professor of forensic medicine at the Sorbonne, published the first comprehensive study of hair, “Le Poil de l’Homme et des Animaux,” and three years later, in an influential article, he theorized that the grooves inside every gun barrel leave a unique imprint on bullets that pass through it.
    In the mid-twenties, Calvin Goddard, a New York doctor, began using a comparison microscope, which allows an analyst to examine two slides at the same time, to study bullets.
    According to a long-established practice of hair analysis, the examiners study between twenty and thirty characteristics of each hair.
    Only hairs whose roots are intact—typically because they have been pulled from someone’s head—and are in the growing stage have nuclear DNA, which is unique to each person; the vast majority of hairs found at crime scenes lack roots suitable for testing.
The article closed with the fact that those in the field are ambivalent about “CSI”—flattered by the attention it has brought to the profession but mindful of the cinematic license taken by the program’s creators. For example, a new kind of applicant for jobs at the crime lab. “They’re waiting for their interviews, and they look like they’re auditioning for a hip profession,” “It’s not the nerdy-looking people anymore. They don’t realize that there is nothing cool or funky about this job.”

For another related information see The State of Forensic Science in the US
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Visit McHenrySoftware.com for technical information & software. McHenryConsultants.com for litigation consulting.
(c) McHenry Software, Inc ALL Rights Reserved.

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