I thought this documentary would contain cases solved with new scientific techniques - instead, it told of how forensic 'science' is more subjective than objective, that 'experts' in the field could be certified as such on-line with very little preparation, and that its not true that every person's fingerprints are different. One study even found that 80% of fingerprint experts participating changed their conclusion from 'a match' to 'no match' after being told a different background story about the potential culprit. Bite mark evidence was identified as one of, if not the least reliable sources of physical evidence - consistent with a recent case in Phoenix that sent an innocent man to spend several years on death row before being exonerated by DNA evidence.
DNA evidence, it turns out, is the one solid piece of evidence - experts can objectively quantify the likelihood of someone being a match or not a match; not something we can now do with even fingerprint evidence.
Two suggestions for the shows' producers: 1)When interviewing the federal judge who was knowledgeable about the weaknesses of forensic science 'experts,' the interview should have also asked him he handled courtroom decisions involving allowing/disallowing such 'expert' testimony. 2)The program should not have referenced the Casey Anthony case - supposedly her acquittal was evidence that CSI evidence was not trustworthy. Actually, it did no such thing.
I teach a forensic psychology class- this is full of segments that can be used to generate class discussions and critical thinking. A good counter to those who only know what's on the CSI and other media programming. Better for teachers than for sheer viewing enjoyment. (That's not a bad thing- it's what I bought it for). I didn't give it five stars because it isn't quite as good as the NOVA DVD- still it's quite good.
"Forensic science is everywhere. On T.V., it's used to arrest and convict. But what we thought was science, may not be. Like the science of fingerprints. In fact, there is no national standard for any forensic testimony. And what about getting certified in forensics? You can do that online. [This program is an] investigation of one of the increasingly controversial tools of the criminal justice system: forensic science."
The above is what the narrator says in the introduction of this revealing documentary.
This program was first broadcast on PBS on April 17, 2012. It is a production of the popular investigative reporting show "Frontline."
This episode of Frontline specifically looks into:
(1) fingerprints (2) a report on forensics by the National Academy of Sciences (3) the Casey Anthony case (4) forensic certification
Finally, to get its point across, this program has comments from real CSI investigators, judges, lawyers, those accused of a crime because of CSI or forensic evidence, etc.
In conclusion, this program reveals the truth behind forensic science. The big question is:
Has this documentary caused me to stop viewing my favourite CSI television program (which is "CSI Miami")?
NO. I like the main actor's acting ability. But now I realize that Crime Scene Investigation in the REAL world is not so simple.