Unfortunately, these shows also create a false expectation that clear and definite evidence can be shown for any case, which is not true. Jurors expect every case to have thorough scientific evidence from the best and most modern technology and to look exactly as it does on a television show (Shelton). Radford said, “Science does not operate on certainties.” During an investigation, scientists don’t ever say that the DNA being tested is a “match” to the suspect because nothing can ever be a definite match. Instead, their vocabulary consists of phrases such as
In McClure, Weisburd and Wilson (2008) summary article arguing that in addition to bench science, field experimentation involving forensic methods is key to assess the utility of various methods to solve crimes. The study reflected that there is a need for more research into many aspects of forensic science, criticizing the strength of scientific evidence that’s collected at a crime scene and interpretations of most forensic methods while omitting DNA testing. McClure et al’s (2008) explains that in sexual cases and homicides, the presence of DNA evidence actually increased the likelihood of prosecution and a conviction. According to the article “…the case of convictions, the odds-ratio for the presence of DNA evidence was 33.1 for sexual offenses and 23.1 for homicides” (McClure et al., 2008). Subsequently, the research shows that there was a consistent gradual decline in the national homicide rates that began in the 1900s and continued through into the 21st century. The decline of homicides in the US has dropped by from more than 90% in the 1960s to 62% in 2003. Even though this significant drop has occurred during the introduction of the new DNA testing
In some cases, such as murder there are some people that have been wrongfully accused. Due to wrongful practices, people have been convicted of circumstantial evidence. ``DNA is a very powerful tool . . . but it is circumstantial evidence like other pieces of circumstantial evidence and a proper investigation still has to take place,'' she said. (Matthew, n.d.).
DNA testing was first used in criminal prosecutions in 1985 and is now admissible in all states. (Hails, 184) Scientific and legal communities seem to universally accept the use of DNA as “good” evidence. Questions could arise regarding testing procedures. There are several testing methods that have been proven reliable and easily pass general acceptance and scientific validity tests. This is causes number of Daubert cases questioning DNA to decline. “In most cases, the tests that are used are well established and do not require a separate hearing” (Hails, 160)
Contamination can occur when transferring DNA or the collection of DNA evidence. In the case involving Mr. Farah, he was wrongful charged of rape although he had appealed in the High Court with the basis of the scientists not having said he was undisputedly the perpetrator. The scientists said that it was a very small chance that it was not Mr. Farah which he argued was still a reasonable doubt. The judges dismissed the case within twenty minutes but it was later found that the evidence was contaminated. Other examples include R v. Rendell (1999) and R v. Carroll (2002.)Though technology is advancing, the process of collecting, processing and analyzing DNA has faults. There needs to be more training, procedures and checks put in place for the system to be effective. Faults in evidence presents to be ineffective justice as although the jury weighed up the evidence, there was inadequate access to allow him to refute the claims and lead to wrongful convictions.
I. Before the 1980’s, courts relied on testimony and eyewitness accounts as a main source of evidence. Notoriously unreliable, these techniques have since faded away to the stunning reliability of DNA forensics.
Unfortunately, life does not always imitate art. Evidence proved that in a number of Durnal studies, that exposure to forensic science television drama series has altered the American legal system in complex and far-reaching ways. Jurors think they have a thorough understanding of science they have seen presented on television, when they do not. In a case cited by Durnal, jurors in a murder trial brought to the judge’s attention that a bloody coat introduced as evidence was not tested for DNA. The defendant admitted being present at the murder scene, so the test would not have thrown light on the identity of the true culprit. The judge stated that television is to thank for jurors knowing what DNA tests could do, but not when it was appropriate to use them. Another study revealed 62% of defense lawyers and 69% of judges agreed that jurors had unrealistic expectations of forensic evidence. Approximately half of the respondents in each category felt that jury selection was taking longer than it used to, because they had to be sure that prospective jurors were not judging scientific evidence by television standards (The CSI Effect,
DNA forensics can also narrow down suspect pools, exonerate innocent suspects, and link crimes together if the same DNA is found at both scenes. However, without existing suspects, a DNA profile cannot direct an investigation because current knowledge of genotype-phenotype relation is too vague for DNA phenotyping. For example, a profile from a first time offender that has no match in any database may give the information that the criminal is a left handed male of medium stature with red hair and freckles. It would be impossible to interview every man who fits that description. However, with available suspects, DNA forensics has many advantages over other forms of evidence. One is the longevity of DNA. Although it will deteriorate if exposed to sunlight, it can remain intact for centuries under proper conditions (Sachs, 2004). Because DNA is so durable, investigators can reopen old cases to reexamine evidence.
With the number of DNA exonerations growing in the recent years, wrongful convictions reveal disturbing trends and fissures in the justice system. It shows how broken the system is, and why it needs urgent fixing. According to Huff (1996), over ten thousand people are convicted wrongfully for serious crimes each year. This study established that factors leading to wrongful convictions are false eyewitnesses, a prejudiced jury, incompetent prosecutors, and suspects’ ignorance. Where DNA evidence clears a suspect, array of reasons emerge; misconduct, mistakes, to race and class factors. It is important to make DNA data available to attorneys in order to enable them mount a strong
Every time an innocent person is exonerated based on DNA testing, law enforcement agencies look at what caused the wrongful convictions. There are many issues that contribute to putting guiltless lives behind bars including: eyewitness misidentification, false confessions, imperfect forensic science, and more (Gould and Leo 18). When a witness is taken into a police station to identify a suspect, it is easy for their memories to be blurred and their judgment influenced. This can lead the witness to identify a suspect who is actually innocent. Flawed forensic science practice also contributes to wrongful imprisonments. In the past, analysts have been inaccurate due to carelessness, testified in court presenting evidence that was not based
There has been a lot of research intending to fully discover the extent of the CSI effect television that has found its impact to be negative. Of the multitudes of negative impacts of the CSI effects, among the most prevalent are the unrealistic expectations that viewers have of DNA and other types of forensic evidence in the courtroom. In Ley, Jankowski, and Brewer’s study, they analyzed a large sample of CSI episodes for their content relating to forensic science. The study found that that in 94% of all episodes in the sample the detectives used DNA evidence to solve cases. Also, in 88% of all cases shown, the
There have been many incidents where cases have needed a solid prosecution in order to convict the defendant in a murder or rape case. This is where DNA Testing comes in to help. By taking a DNA test, a person can be found guilty or not guilty. If a person claims they have been raped there can be a sperm sample taken from the suspect in order to prove that he is guilty or not. In addition, in a murder case there can be blood taken from the suspect so they can tell of his innocence. There are several ways to determine whether a person is guilty or not by this method. Many cases have begun to use this method saying that it is foolproof. People say this is the method of the future of crime
Because there are many different types of crimes, it is often difficult to find enough physical evidence to convict a person. For example, in rape cases there is usually only a small amount of physical evidence, so cases are based on word alone. Because of DNA testing we can now take samples from the victim and attempt to match the results with those of the suspect. Therefore, DNA is sometimes the only real way of determining the guilt or innocence of a suspect without having any witnesses. Since many rape cases are left unsolved, DNA testing is believed to be the most accurate way of keeping sex offenders off the street. Because of the growing trend of using DNA in rape cases especially, a company in Brooklyn now advertises a small flashlight-like device intended to be used to jab at attackers in order to collect a sample of his skin for later use (Adler). According to a study by Joseph Peterson, with the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois, DNA evidence does not have a major impact on the decision to either convict or acquit
A review of false convictions that involved forensic science and can help identify critical lessons for forensic scientists as they perform testing, interpret results, render conclusions, and testify in court from the national institute of justice.
With regard to the US, where social science and STS research have, focused less on forensic databases and more on the production of expertise and evidence in court, Jay Aronson provided a historical account of the early practices, the scientific and legal controversies, and the ultimately successful acceptance of forensic DNA evidence in court in 2007. Another particularity of social science and STS research in this domain is that it has so far mostly concentrated its “high end” forensic technologies, namely those which received a lot of public attention because they were new, because stakeholders in the criminal justice system struggled to determine the parameters of scientific reliability and admissibility, or because they were prominently featured in the media. While the use of DNA analysis for police investigations and forensic casework dates back to the late 1980s, the second half of the 1990s marked the beginning of the quest to render DNA profiles systematically and routinely searchable and minable by setting up centralized DNA databases in many countries around the world. A DNA molecule is a long, twisting chain known as a double helix. DNA looks pretty complex, but it's really made of only four nucleotides: Adenine, Cytosine, Guanine, and Thymine. These nucleotides exist as base pairs that link together like a ladder. Adenine and Thymine always bond together as a pair, and Cytosine and Guanine bond together as a pair.