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CSI Effect – Criminology Essay

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Updated: Apr 27th, 2020

Media coverage portraying the effect of CSI is a phenomena that has been well documented, this means that the actual evidence of the effect of programs, such as CSI is difficult to access. The accounts presented in the media are depend on the conclusory statements and anecdotes given by actors in the criminal justice system, and there is little reference to empirical data.

The socio-legal literature reviews shows something different. According to scholars, CSI effect strongly affects prosecutor’s effect leading to wrongful acquittals. Its effect on defendant’s effect is also plausible.

According to the data provided by the socio-legal scholars, a number of discussions on the litigation bursts, that are regularly provided by the media, are dependant on horror stories on unthinking civil actions. Analysis of these stories has revealed that the expected outcomes were less egregious compared to the reports. The CSI effect covered in the media also depends on anecdotes.

Findings in this survey have little supporting evidence on prosecutor’s effect; however, this is what people think when CSI effect is mentioned. This survey is focused on the effects on actor’s behavior. The survey does not focus on the effects on juror’s behavior, although they seek to determine jurors’ behavior.

The survey is aimed at determining whether the juror was affected by CSI. There is a claim of legal actors talking to jurors, but despite this, the measure is still poor because the measure is not direct, the legal actors hardly perceive the juror’s behavior in a biased manner.

According to the results of juror’s survey, the individuals who are very interested in CSI share different attitudes to the evidences provided by forensic scientists than those who are less interested in CSI and thus, have less exposure to it. A psychological testing is carried out to determine if there is any difference in behavior between high-exposure individuals and low exposure individuals.

To determine the CSI effect, a number of studies were carried out between a group of individuals watching CSI and the group that does not watch it. In this survey, psychological tests were also carried using college students as jurors, the college student do not represent the actual pool of jury but are used for experimental purposes.

In the previous research, there was examination of the prosecutor’s effect on the juror’s decision of acquitting defendants; this might be because of their highest expectations in forensic science. Sometimes, when the juror acquits a case even with forensic science, there is an accusation on mishandling of evidence because of the high expectations for cases with forensic evidence.

In such cases, the prosecution is expected to win, and if the otherwise happens, then the ruling is not considered to be fare. This study focuses on determining the CSI effect, the prosecutor’s effect on the jury’s verdict and the prosecutor’s effect on the juror’s behavior. There is also the issue of how the media covers CSI effect, does it affect the people’s perception on CSI effect.

Intellectuals and social scientists have different views on civil litigation reform on the coverage of CSI effect in the media; intellectuals support tort reforms while social scientists support the civil litigation system. The tort reformers depend on resonant anecdote for evidence while social scientists depend on statistical evidence.

According to the analysis, media use is broad in terms of CSI effect; media is used to convey different ideas that might sometimes be incompatible, in this research CSI effect is assumed to strongly affect the prosecution side which might affect the jury’s behavior during acquittal.

This research tends to make people believe that CSI has an impact on juror behavior, and this makes it difficult during conviction. Media discussions on CSI effect gives a suggestion that CSI effect could seriously ramify justice systems, however, there is no evidence to support the claim.

Another effect of media coverage is one on the jury; there is a believe that lawsuits affect the United States both socially and economically, therefore, plaintiffs that would always win the law suits is a perspective that is considered as sympathetic on the side of juror. The jury’s decision might be affected by previous decisions that were made through the media; therefore, the jury ends up in making wrong decisions concerning the current case.

This argument might also be applied to the case of CSI effect. In this case, jurors who are consumers of media, might be tempted to believe that prosecutors have limitations in handling criminal trials.

This makes them believe that prosecutors cannot achieve conviction despite the presence of forensic evidence, and because of this perception, the juror might view prosecutors as underdogs and act out of sympathy towards their presentation in court. A strong prosecutor effect might be described as a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is turned into a self-denying prophecy by the jury. This might prevent the occurrence of strong prosecution.

CSI effect on the juror’s decision has been purported by the media coverage and anecdotal evidence. This study’s focus is skewed towards investigating the CSI effect together with NC and its role as a moderator in criminal trial verdicts. CSI effect has been accused of influencing decisions made by investigators, forensic scientists, court judges and prosecutors as well as juror.

Judges have been accused of making decision based on what they had watched on the television earlier; they relate the evidence presented to them to that presented in CSI. Decisions made under such circumstances are wrong and without use of evidence presented in the court.

Jurors who have a high viewership of criminal television series are also have a tendency of using the opinions presented in CSI programs to decide on the verdict or acquittal of criminal suspects. The public is worried about such cases because they can lead to acquittal of people who are guilty thus threatening the security as whole. If the trend continues the justice system would fall apart.

This research determines the relationship between CSI and NC and relates it to the findings in the previous studies. According to the previous study, this relationship is more complex because there is a point where the two need each other’s cooperation, and there is a point that each of them has to be independent.

Therefore, this study will seek to find if there is another factor that relates the two with any complexity. In this study the factors that determine verdict are explored, as well as question of consultations between these factors is discussed. This study utilizes questionnaires and video recordings as materials, where participants are asked to watch the video and fill the questionnaires. The data are analyzed to determine the CSI effect and need for recognition, as well as their relationship in a criminal trial.

The participants were allowed to view a video from trials; the video presented to the participants the reasons for verdict together with preferences. They were also subjected to fiction of forensic science together with documentaries on the same.

The findings were partly replicated in the earlier research findings, where viewership was known to influence greater expectations of evidence from the prosecution; however, it did not influence the verdict. This is an indication that CSI effect does not influence juror’s perceptions on the evidence present in the court by the prosecution. However, this study does not give evidence on the effect of heavy viewing on the prosecutor that can lead him or her to wrongfully acquitting defendants.

The findings give predictions of negative scores with high NC; this is an indication of high sensitivity verdict scale acquittals. However, this does not mean that viewership or dichotomous verdict can be moderated. NC also predicts moderated viewership through prediction of the reason for the verdict. This evidence reminds that of McAuliff and Kovera provided in 2008. In that case, the participants of the process were found to be more exposed to the soundness of the facts provided in the court.

The findings in this study raise several questions; where heavy viewing carried biased attitudes, which is seen in the dissatisfaction with pro-prosecution evidence as compared to light viewers. Heavy viewers, also had the likelihood of identifying potential mishandlings of evidence as the reason for the verdict, and had an indication of a higher standard of certainty that is required when determining the innocence of the defendant.

In this study, viewership did not influence verdicts; this is because verdict is influenced by many other factors and scientific evidence is only one of them. The issue of using only NC in order to predict verdict scores has raised a number of questions. The use of moderated viewership, in this case, in order to predict mishandling of evidence in the ruling was the issue of discussion.

According to research done in earlier years, individuals who have high NC tend to process information more actively, they are able to develop opinions at early stage and support evidence that is considered to be ambiguous than those individuals who have low NC. The current research presents a greater threshold of finding the defendant guilty when compared to light viewers; therefore, using positive correlation, it is reasonable to relate acquittals to heavy viewing and high-NC individuals than to other groups.

According to the current results, forensic television viewership, together with NC, may work together when evaluating certain types of evidence; however, the two do not work together during verdict formation. The findings in the research done by other researchers reveal that the relationship between NC and CSI effect is complex.

There is a third factor that moderates NC and viewership; this is evidence strength; this is because according to the previous research, high-NC individuals are sensitive to strong evidence, and NC moderates viewership in instances where evidence is very strong or very weak. Therefore, this two have a likelihood of convicting in cases of strong evidence. This study is unique in the sense that it has used video recorded stimulus as opposed to the past studies that used written stimuli. This study also used NC as a moderating factor.

According to the National Research Council, DNA evidence is increasingly being used in America; the criminal justice system use forensic DNA testing to work out its criminal cases. By November 2008, 79,300 investigations had been solved using the National DNA Index. Additionally, Forensic DNA testing has been useful in acquitting individuals who had been wrongly convicted. The use of forensic is not only supported by the criminal justice system, but also by the U.S. public; the public supports the collection of DNA information.

DNA testing faced challenges when Ryan brought up a debate on the use evidence from DNA testing; he stopped executions in the United States following the use of DNA evidence to acquit death row inmates.

The public had to be educated on the use of DNA testing and evidence further; this took a place in the media as an entertainment program where a team of forensic scientists solve criminal problems using DNA evidence; this program was among the popular program and it is still is. This brings out the question of whether the media perception of DNA influences the public view.

According to research on the influence of media on public perception, particularly on science and technology, television viewing cultivates reservations and beliefs in science and technology. However, heavy television viewers have more reservations as compared to light viewers. Viewing television has been accused of displacing learning opportunities on science and technology; however, according to research, viewing television programs of specific genres shape the perception of the viewers about science and technology.

The use of news media also has an influence on how the public perceives science and technology, according to research, reading newspapers can lead to generalized perceptions and support of science and technology. Scholars have also realized that reading newspapers, the reader’s general knowledge, as well as knowledge on specific areas of science and technology rises. However, previous research has not shown much about the use of local television and its impact on public perceptions on the same.

DNA evidence is a part of science and technology which perceptions have been influenced by media; the crime dramas in television, such as CSI, together with its clones are the main focus. According to Anecdotal and qualitative, these programs present evidence that is reliable; when the first six seasons were analyzed, it was found that CSI provided evidence to support its claims, and this evidence was systematic. The analysis also realized that there was no mistake in using the evidence.

Exposure to such programs shape how one perceives forensic evidence, particularly DNA evidence. According to some researchers, such exposure raises one’s expectations when forensic evidence is presented to him or her by the prosecution; this makes it difficult for prosecutors during convictions. Other researchers argue that exposure to crime dramas enhance confidence in evidence presented in forensic form, making it easier for prosecution during conviction.

The present research is focusing on influence of television viewing, as well as news media on public perception of forensic evidence. This research provides tests on psychological processes that underlie media influence on perceptions of science and technology. The study points out a number of relationships between the public perceptions and media use of DNA evidence.

Television viewing is heavily dependant upon public perceptions that the DNA evidences are the most reliable, and thus, there is a great support for the need of a national DNA databank and that the weight of a jury’s decision when DNA evidence is not attached. The study also found out that viewing television can lead to displacement of learning opportunities as seen in the previous studies by Nisbet and colleagues.

The findings in this study also shed light on the issue of CSI effect. Crime dramas shape jurors’ reaction towards forensic evidence. There was no evidence to show that viewing crime programs predicts the weight attached to the jury’s decision when DNA evidence is present or absent.

This finding casts doubt on previous research about CSI effect; however, the debate should be shift the focus on public understanding and confidence in forensic evidence. According to the findings in this study, television predict the public self-perceived understanding of DNA, as well as belief in DNA evidence reliability; this finding relates to the former studies.

The study also confirms the argument that when studying media has a great effect on public perceptions, and news media should also be included; this is because both television viewing and reading newspaper predict the public support for a DNA databank. DNA databank may be used to reflect crime coverage and such information can be used by crime fighting institutions to fight crime. This finding backs up the opinion that media use can shape and produce learning on science and technology.

The analysis in this research had several limitations; the study focused more on television viewing rather than on particular shows that capture the exposure to the genre under study. This study focuses only on the United States of America and yet the DNA testing and forensic science are technologies that used globally and the future researchers should take care of the limitations.

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