Criminal Justice News and VIews

Interesting items related to criminal justice

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Location: Scottsdale, Arizona, United States

I love teaching and sharing knowledge. The Internet is a free passage to an amazing amount of knowledge provided by some of the greatest minds of the day. MIT, Oxford and other universities are now sharing lecture notes with the public and allowing us to dip into the overflowing fonts of wisdom that abound. Yale is but one university that has put actual lectures on the web.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Arizona Prosecutors want TV Shows to have Disclaimers

This appeared in Crime and Justice News, an email service that I subscribed to.

Prosecutor Seeks Disclaimers On TV Crime Shows
Some Arizona jurors may be under the spell of the "CSI Effect" - looking solely for scientific proof and disregarding witnesses and police testimony, says the East Valley (Az.) Tribune. Maricopa County prosecutor Andrew Thomas last week asked local affiliates of NBC, ABC and CBS to put a disclaimer at the beginning of television shows like "CSI" and "Law & Order" stating that the programs are fiction.

In a new study by the county prosecutor's office, 38 percent of more than 100 prosecutors believed they had at least one trial with an acquittal or hung jury because forensic evidence wasn't readily available, despite a convincing amount of other information. About 40 percent of the time, jurors mention things such as latent prints, ballistics, or mitochondrial DNA. "The shows give the impression that these are the types of things we should be looking for in trials," Thomas said. Officials are confident that adding disclaimers would provide a much-needed dose of reality to drama seekers.


One of the television channels had a program on recently that showed the major difference between the workings of a forensics unit and what is portrayed on CSI.

Do you think that the so-called "Reality" genre type of programs that are such a large part of the television line-ups contribute to citizens' believing what they see on television to be the absolute truth?

How do we, or can we, assist citizens to understand that television shows are fiction and that just because a talking head on a program says something, it may not be pure fact?