Feb
22
2009

The "CSI effect"

Fingerprint errors: Fingerprint "science" is sometimes mistaken
Fingerprint errors: Fingerprint "science" is sometimes mistakenCourtesy blvesboy

Forensic science not always scientific

"The CSI Effect," is a reference to the popular television show CSI -- Crime Scene Investigation and its spin-offs.

In reality, our forensic science system, upon which criminal and civil litigation depends, has been found to be far from meeting scientific standards.

A National Research Council report, "Strengthening Forensic Science in the United States: A Path Forward," stated:

"The forensic science system in the United States has serious problems that can only be addressed by a national commitment to overhaul the current structure that supports the forensic science community,"

The report urges Congress to authorize and fund a new federal entity, the National Institute of Forensic Science, or NIFS, to oversee how forensic science is practiced in the United States.

232 wrongfully convicted prisoners found to be innocent

The report was welcomed by lawyers for the Innocence Project, which has employed DNA evidence to help free 232 wrongly convicted defendants.

For example, it mentions the case of attorney Brandon Mayfield who in 2004 was erroneously linked by digital fingerprint images to train bombing in Madrid that year. Mayfield was arrested and subsequently released when the FBI acknowledged that it had made a mistake.

Scientific standards needed

Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said "many forensic disciplines lack the standards necessary to ensure their scientific reliability in court (and) that forensic laboratories and their experts do not have uniform, mandatory accreditation policies."

Sources:
Forensic Science System In U.S. Needs Overhaul, Information Week
Crime labs are seriously deficient, report says MSNBC

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Candace's picture
Candace says:

wow, i thought that scientific evidence was usually 100% acurate?

posted on Tue, 02/24/2009 - 10:29pm
avery's picture
avery says:

me 2

posted on Fri, 03/26/2010 - 11:32am
lcjank's picture
lcjank says:

scientific evidence is pretty accurate i think..i don't really believe the whole not everything is accurate

posted on Wed, 07/01/2009 - 10:50am
ARTiFactor's picture
ARTiFactor says:

Garbage in often yields garbage out. Accreditation means the "scientists" doing the work have passed a competency test. Sloppy work or not knowing or caring what you are doing can have very serious consequences in the lives of others.

posted on Wed, 07/01/2009 - 6:55pm
miss constance willard's picture
miss constance willard says:

science is awesome! i like to look at different things. yeah.

posted on Thu, 07/02/2009 - 10:46am
BriannaMarie14's picture
BriannaMarie14 says:

Science is a different type of subject. It makes you interested in the things that you do. I love studying the body parts. It's very interesting.

posted on Sat, 03/13/2010 - 1:36pm
Gene's picture
Gene says:

A report from England shows that the "CSI effect" is hampering law enforcement. Juries expect iron-clad evidence, and criminals are picking up tips on how to avoid getting caught.

posted on Wed, 04/28/2010 - 2:58pm

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