CSI Effect in Criminal Forensics
It has long been suspected that the scenes, stories and situations people are exposed to through the medium of television can eventually distort their view of reality. Phenomena such as the desensitization to violence exhibited by children who watch hours of cartoon combat daily, or the shifting sense of body image experienced by women who only see slim, attractive models on screen serve to confirm the suspicion that television can alter one’s perception of the real world. Although these effects are undoubtedly disconcerting on a personal level, another consequence of televised media’s pervasiveness in modern society has recently emerged, and with it a series of serious implications for the criminal justice system. Dubbed the “CSI Effect” by increasingly incredulous prosecuting attorneys across America, a disturbing trend has developed within courtrooms in all corners of the country. According to proponents of the CSI Effect, Americans serving as jurors in criminal proceedings — having grown accustomed to the neatly presented, incredibly thorough, and utterly convincing forensic evidence presented in every 60-minute broadcast of wildly popular TV series like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation — are now demanding the same level of exacting precision and overwhelming evidence during actual trials. As described by Michael Toomin, an experienced judge with the Cook County Criminal Court in Chicago, Illinois, today’s juries are increasingly “asking where’s the DNA, where’s the fingerprints?
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