In a recent blog entry about forensic phenotyping, I wrote “Much of the information in these [crime scene investigation] TV shows is not exactly accurate. (I have long thought that I should write a blog entry contrasting forensic DNA laboratories as they exist on screen and in reality.)” It seems that someone has beat me to the punch. In his recent paper (1), Evan Durnal eloquently sums it up: “With this new style of ‘infotainment’, comes an increasingly blurred line between the hard facts of reality and the soft, quick solutions of entertainment.”
Durnal points out the single largest gripe that many criminal justice officials have about crime scene investigation (CSI) television shows: the common myths that are created and perpetuated by these types of TV shows. Durnal lists four main categories of myths: capabilities, roles and responsibilities, evidence and schedule. All of these myths are well known (and probably frustrating) to anyone who works in a forensic laboratory. Durnal also summarizes the effects of CSI shows on the judicial system, including jurors, prosecutors, defense attorneys, law enforcement officials and the criminals themselves. In part I of this two-part blog entry, I will present Durnal’s four categories of myths about crime scene investigation.