CJ 140 How to process and sketch a crime scene

Purpose

This week, you will be applying much of what you have learned over this course through the textbook readings, videos, PowerPoints, discussion board posts, quizzes, midterm report and instructor feedback. You will be completing your Final Report which will be a comparison of the television show “C.S.I” to established protocols and capabilities in Forensic Science.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLO):

CLO 4 – Demonstrate how to process and sketch a crime scene.

CLO 5 – Describe the basic processing of drugs and toxicological evidence and microscopic evidence like hairs, fibers, and paint.

Upon completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Identify proper forensic science techniques
  • Identify bogus or faulty forensic science techniques
  • Evaluate the forensic techniques portrayed and provide an opinion of their validity
  • Complete a rough draft of a crime scene sketch and describe its contents

Introduction

The “C.S.I. Effect”

In recent years there has been a lot of attention given in the criminal justice field to the supposed “C.S.I. Effect” or “C.S.I. Syndrome.” This is a widely held belief that the proliferation of crime shows featuring an exaggerated portrayal of Forensic Science has influenced public perception. Many criminal justice professionals feel this has raised the standard of proof for prosecutors, increased the public demand for forensic science in police investigations, and significantly increased workloads on crime labs nationwide.

There has been a lot of debate on whether the C.S.I. effect is real, and arguments over just how perceptions have changed continue.

C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation has been a prime time, fictional police drama that started running in the year 2000. It features a fictional team of forensic investigators that work out of a crime lab in Las Vegas, Nevada. This team will typically take on and solve one or two crimes, within the span of a one-hour episode featuring an array of forensic techniques. Since the inception of the show there have been spin-offs, featuring crime labs in Miami, New Orleans and New York.

In response to criticism of the shows depiction of forensic science as being unrealistic the show’s creator, Anthony Zuiker, insisted the science depicted in the shows is accurate. Some forensic scientists have countered that many of the scientific techniques portrayed on the show do not exist or are inaccurate.

Measuring whether or not this show has actually affected public perception to a degree where there has been a measurable impact on the criminal justice system would take extended empirical studies with a large study group and resources far beyond a 100 level criminalistics course.

Instructions and Requirements

In addition to your textbook, discussion board posts, quizzes and instructor feedback, you may also refer to the chapter PowerPoints, read assignments and additional resources for this report. You will be required to use a minimum of three (3) separate references, one (1) of which may include material provided in this course.

You will be completing an objective assessment of the television show. You will need to watch any single episode of this show (Either C.S.I. Las Vegas, C.S.I. Miami, C.S.I. New Orleans or C.S.I. New York) to do this evaluation. There is more than one way to do this. There are generally regular broadcasts of the show on network TV or you can check out one of the multiple online sources to watch these episodes such as Hulu, Roku, Vudu, CBS, Google Play, Amazon Prime Video, iTunes, etc..

While watching this episode you will take notes on the following and be able to describe it in a final report form. This report needs to be broken down into three parts, which are clearly labeled with PART I, PART II, and PART III.

PART I-The Plot

The plot will be a description of what happened during the episode. Give a brief description of each crime in the episode including the victims, major players or witnesses, and the crime scene.

PART II-The Forensic Techniques and your evaluation of their portrayal of their forensic testing

Each C.S.I. episode usually involves the testing of evidence by several different forensic techniques. Many of these are commonplace techniques such as Cyanoacrylate fuming for latent prints, DNA testing, ballistics and so on. List each technique used during the episode, describe the evidence that was tested and list the result(s).

Evaluate the portrayal of each of these techniques and provide your subjective opinion as to whether or not they depicted it realistically. Answer the following questions about each technique after having described it:

Was it a real forensic technique?

Did their results seem possible or realistic given the test used and the type of evidence tested?

Did the time frame in which they obtained their results seem possible or realistic?

Some of the techniques you are going to see on the show you may have already read about or wrote about in CJ 140. You may also find them described in chapters yet to be covered (check the glossary). Also, some of these techniques are going to be kind of “out there”, it’s television after all. You should look upon your book as a valuable reference for doing this assignment, but in the case of the techniques not covered by the book, you will need to research them and make a determination, citing your sources.

Don’t hesitate to use your instructor as a resource. If you are working on your project and don’t know what to make of a forensic technique you saw used on the show, feel free to send me an email and ask me about it. Just remember that in the end it is your opinion (with written justification) that should be the focus.

PART III-Your overall rating of this episode and draft crime scene sketch

Based upon your evaluation of the portrayal of the forensic techniques depicted during this episode, give a subjective opinion about how close it was to reality. Provide your opinion as to what impact you believe this episode had on the “C.S.I Effect” overall.

On a separate document, pick one of the crime scenes from the episode and complete a rough sketch of the crime scene. Obviously, you cannot get exact measurements, so you will have to make some estimations for distance and portions not viewable on screen, however you need to include as much of the key information required of a crime scene sketch as possible. This will be submitted as a separate attachment.

Report Formatting Specifics

The body of the report shall be 3-5 pages, not including references.

You do not need to include an abstract with your report.

This paper needs to be written using APA formatting including 12 point Times New Roman font with 1 inch margins. You can utilize the UCC Library at https://guides.ucclibrary.com/apa (Links to an external site.) (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for specifics on APA formatting.

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