CSI Effect Term Paper
There are many popular TV shows today that manifest the work of forensic science. Due to this popularity, the term CSI effect has emerged to express the reaction of the legal system depicted on the screen. This phenomenon is considered to confound viewers’ perceptions of criminal behavior and forensic science. It includes the wrong perception of the activities of different people involved in the court process. There is a certain system of indicators that is considered to help to measure CSI effect. These indicators are:
- Anecdotes: reliance on anecdotal messages in cases that possess strong circumstantial evidence.
- Survey Data: studies show that 70% of jurors base their vision of forensic science on TV shows.
- Jury Simulations: most jurors state that one or several CSI factors contributes to their decision on the case.
- Acquittal Rates: there was a decline in acquittal rates observed before 2005, but after the term CSI effect had appeared, it began to increase.
CSI effect has both positive and negative aspects. The positive aspects are:
- Public awareness and education about the forensic system: CSI effect is believed to encourage young people to engage in forensic science studying. Police criticized universities, saying that due to the growing number of students they offer inappropriate education and leave students unprepared to their work after graduation. In connection with this criticism, new accreditation standards for educational programs were published, basing on the recommendations of the United States National Institute of Justice.
- Increase of popularity and attractiveness of CSI-related professions
- Increase of demands in forensic investigations: Jurors need to have higher evidence standards and better scientific ways of crime detection because of the CSI effect. Needless to say, jurors have an enormous responsibility and have to be absolutely convinced in making decisions. Studies show that CSI viewers are more serious working with forensic evidence given in the trial, as well as more convinced about their decision, compared to non-viewers.
Meanwhile, the negative aspects of CSI effect include:
- Effect on the legal system as a whole and on decision-making in court in particular.
- Increase of the number of perfect crimes: Due to viewing TV shows, criminals know more about the ways to eliminate evidence. They get ideas from these shows and take them as instructions to plan the crime. Thus, the number of perfect crimes is increasing.
- Overstatement of public opinion as a result of the loss of realistic perceptions: Many experts say that the CSI effects cause heightened unrealistic expectations of the work of forensic science. Due to the increasing pressure from the public, prosecutors have to build the case basing not only on the legal standards but also on these unrealistic expectations of CSI viewers.
It is important to understand that there is little real life depicted in TV shows. They only give viewers the basic understanding of how criminal justice system works. Therefore, viewers have to understand that they should not base their beliefs and expectations on them.