The CSI Effect

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In 2006, over 100 million people in the United States tuned in to watch either CSI or any if the other forensic and criminal investigation related television show each week (CJSG). Since then, the number of viewers has increased rapidly, as well as the amount of television shows with the same type of theme. As a result of the increase of these television programs, researchers are discovering a new phenomenon called the ‘CSI Effect’ that seems to be fueling an interest in forensic science and criminal investigations nationwide. This effect is actually the ability of criminal justice themed television shows to influence and increase victims’, jurors’ and criminals’ ideas about forensics, DNA testing and methods, and criminal investigations (CJSG). Although the connection between the CSI Effect and a criminal’s mind is a growing problem, the CSI Effect influencing jurors in the United States by causing unrealistic expectations for definite forensic evidence, creating an increased ‘knowledge’ about forensic science and by creating an expectation for criminal cases and trials to be equivalent to what happens on popular criminal justice television shows is a much bigger issue.

A juror who has no experience with or background knowledge on the subject of forensic science is a rarity in this day and age. In 2006, 70 million people watched one of the three versions of CSI in one week and 30 million watched the original CSI in one night (Shelton). Thanks to these popular television shows people are beginning to think they have certain knowledge about the way a case should be investigated and what scientific evidence needs to be provided in court. The worst thing about the CSI Effect is that “jurors think they have a thorough understanding ...

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