Csi Effect Essay

1270 words - 5 pages

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was introduced to viewers in October 2000. Since that time, the franchise has added two versions in major metropolitan areas, now addressing crime scenarios in Las Vegas, Miami and New York City. Based on the most recent Nielsen ratings for primetime television shows, the CSI franchise claimed approximately 35 million viewers during the 2010 – 2011 viewing season. The popularity of forensic science drama on television has led officers of the court to voice opinions that there is a “CSI effect” which alters the juror pools and outcomes of criminal trial proceedings. The differences between made for television fiction and actual crime solving are many and when jurors consider themselves pseudo-experts those lines may get blurred in the courtroom.
Jurors have unrealistic ideas of evidence processing. ”Such programs give the impression that forensic laboratories are fully staffed with highly trained personnel, stocked with a full complement of state-of-the-art instrumentation and rolling in the resources to close every case in a timely fashion.” (Houck 85) Forensic laboratories face funding deficits, not enough suitably trained staff and the consistent advancement of technology. University of Maryland forensic scientist Thomas Mauriello estimates that about 40 percent of the forensic science shown on CSI does not exist. Carol Henderson, director of the National Clearinghouse for Science, Technology and the Law at Stetson University College of Law, told a publication of that institution that jurors are “sometimes disappointed if some of the new technologies that they think exist are not used.” (Houck 87) Investigators often have to explain to victims that it is not possible to collect a sample of a fiber and have that fiber analyzed to determine what it came from, where the fiber had been previously or in some cases, even where the item may have been purchased in a retail store. This particular scenario is played out in the CSI franchise with regularity. The fictional crime scene investigators have success with this in matching everything from nail polish colors to duct tape and being able to locate the retailer who sold it through credit card receipts. Unfortunately real life investigations do not have these capabilities with high tech equipment and flashing lights and laboratories are facing increasing backlogs of materials to analyze.
Forensic science has been around as far back as 44 B.C. when the physician of Julius Caesar determined that only one of the twenty three stab wounds he suffered was fatal. Causes of death, identification by fingerprinting, photographing of crime scenes and DNA profiling are all methods of forensic science. When DNA evidence was first introduced in a criminal case in the United States in 1987, prosecutors’ main concern was educating the jurors with the terminology and having experts testify in language that the general public could understand. Today, due to television,...

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