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The CSI Effect


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How many forensic CSI type shows are on television now? Fifty? Sixty? It's great that so many people are fascinated with the mysteries on this show and are interested in the various types of forensic science that the characters on the show it is important to remember that those shows are fiction. Not everything that television scientists are able to do during a one hour drama is actually possible in regular life.

The proliferation of these types of shows has led to problems in the courts. Jurors who watch these shows are starting to expect more forensic evidence during the cases that they decide. Believe it or not there is such a thing as a “CSI Effect" that has taken place for both jurors and criminals! According to experts, the “CSI Effect" has been skewing the public perception of science for the last few years. Many prosecutors in the United States now say that there is a lot more pressure to produce forensic evidence when their cases go to trial.

Studies done on this effect have shown that jurors who watch forensic science shows like CSI or Bones are more critical when forensic evidence is presented in a trial and are less likely to be swayed when forensic evidence is used. This is ironic considering that these same jurors expect forensic evidence to be presented. It should be noted, however, that the findings of this study did not show any difference in decision making by fans of forensic shows and those who did not watch them. This has to be a relief for prosecutors.

The CSI Effect has had quite the effect on criminals. Crimes are being committed a lot differently now than they were before these forensics shows became so popular. More often, thanks to the popularity of these shows, criminals are taking care to clean their crime scenes and are tampering with the evidence that can be used to convict them. An example of this is criminals using bleach to remove any DNA evidence that they might have left behind. In one case in Ohio, a murderer washed his hands with bleach and used blankets to protect the interior of his car while he transported the bodies of his victims. He then later burned the blankets and the clothes he had been wearing during the time. This same criminal was convicted because he wasn't able to destroy all of the crime's evidence-like the murder weapon.

Forensics shows are very interesting to watch-it can be fun to sit down and try to solve a mystery along with the characters on a television show. It is important to remember, however, that writers and directors take dramatic license with the actual forensic science that is used on these shows. Forensic science is not quite as advanced as it often appears to be on television. Remember this if you are ever called upon for jury duty for a major crime!

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