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CSI Files

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'CSI’ Helps Criminals Avoid Identification

By Carolina
September 9, 2005 - 2:23 AM

CSI and other forensic shows provide more than entertainment – they’re giving criminals ideas on how to commit the perfect crime.

According to New Scientist magazine, robbers today wear gloves, rapists use condoms to avoid leaving their DNA behind, and carjackers even place random cigarette butts inside the cars to confuse the police. These are all ideas they've gotten from watching CSI, according to the magazine. "Suddenly the police have 20 potential people in the car," said Guy Rutty from the Forensic Pathology unit at Leicester University.

This makes the detectives’ work much harder, and has prompted real-life CSIs to avoid talking to the media fearing they'll provide criminals with even more ideas. "People are forensically aware," added Rutty.

And not only has CSI helped criminals think more creatively, it’s also creating problems in the court rooms, where jurors who watch CSI expect elaborate evidence to be presented to them. It’s been dubbed the CSI Effect. "Jurors who watch CSI believe that those scenarios, where forensic scientists are always right, are really what happens," said forensic sedimentologist Peter Bull.

Jurors are constantly disappointed when little evidence is presented to them, or when a simple blood drop takes more than 44 minutes to test. "Oversimplification of interpretations on CSI has led to false expectations, especially about the speed of delivery of forensic evidence," added Jim Fraser, director of the Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Strathclyde, UK.

Pick up the latest issue of New Scientist magazine to read the rest of the article. A preview of it can be found at the magazine’s official website.

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