CRJU145-Justice Information Systems

Week 5 Lecture

This week’s lecture focuses on the information technology tools used by justice administrators. The Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998 provided states the opportunity to implement, add, or upgrade technology resources by providing federal grant funding for technology.

The “CSI Effect” is a phenomenon that police and prosecutors feel has an impact on juries, where the juries have inflated expectations for forensic evidence in trial. Does it really exist, or is it an excuse for losing trials?

Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998

Crime Identification Technology Act of 1998 (CITA): CITA helped jump start the use of information technology (IT) in the criminal justice system.

Law Enforcement

  • Effectiveness enhanced by electronics, etc.
  • Identifying crimes and criminals
  • Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS)
  • Biometrics
  • Data Mining -- patterns of crimes (GIS)
  • Communications
  • Surveillance
  • Information processing

CITA and the Courts:

  • Communications
  • Videoconferencing
  • Evidence presentation
  • Case management
  • Internet records

CITA and Correctional Technology:

  • Locating and monitoring inmates
  • IT for Prison security
  • Ground penetrating radar
  • Heartbeat monitoring
  • Satellite monitoring
  • Pulsed radar
  • Back-Scatter Imaging System for Concealed Weapons
  • Body Scanning Screening System
  • Transmitter wristbands
  • Personal Health Status Monitor
  • All-in-One Drug Detection Spray
  • Radar vital signs monitor/radar flashlight
  • Personal alarm location system

CSI Effect

The CSI Effect is a phenomenon in justice administration where the exaggerated use of forensic science shown in television programming such as CSI, Bones, Cold Case, NCIS, Criminal Minds, and other such has impacted the perception and expectation of juries in criminal trials.

The premise is that because of what they see on television, juries now expect to see the same sort of evidence in criminal trials. According to a 2006 weekly Nielsen rating:

  • 30 million people watched CSI on one night.
  • 70 million people watched one of the three CSI Shows
  • 40 million people watched Without a Trace and Cold Case.

These millions of people find themselves in jury pools.

In one trial, the prosecuting attorney of Hollywood actor Robert Blake from the 1967 movie adaptation of the Truman Capote novel In Cold Blood and the 70’s TV detective series Baretta, who was on trial for the murder of his wife Bonnie Lee Bakley. The prosecution suggested that Blake had hired his bodyguard to kill his wife. They posited that he made two prior attempts to contact his wife’s murder, and both previous potential killers testified to that fact.

In the end, the jury found Blake not guilty of the murder and the prosecutor believed this was due to the lack of forensic evidence linking Blake or his alleged hitman to the killing. The prosecutor believed this was a miscarriage of justice and a clear result of the CSI Effect.

There have been a number of studies conducted on the CSI Effect which have yielded mixed results. Some studies show an increased expectation of jurors to forensic evidence and other studies show that, even with this increased expectation, the acquittal rate has remained relatively the same.

Law enforcement agencies believe the CSI Effect also has had a considerable effect on crime itself. While television shows may exaggerate some forensic technology, some of it is used in investigating. By these show showing detailed means that police investigators use in their investigations, criminals know what police will be looking for and are therefore able to counter some of the investigation methods when they commit their crimes.

Supplemental Resources

To use some of these supplemental resources, you must click the downloadable PDF links below.

National Institute of Justice

Community Members' Perceptions of the CSI Effect.

By: Hayes, Rebecca; Levett, Lora. American Journal of Criminal Justice. Jun2013, Vol. 38 Issue 2, p216-235. 20p. DOI: 10.1007/s12103-012-9166-2. , Database: International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center

Jury's Still Out: How Television and Crime Show Viewing Influences Jurors' Evaluations of Evidence.

By: Hayes-Smith, Rebecca M.; Levett, Lora M. Applied Psychology in Criminal Justice. 2011, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p29-46. 18p. , Database: SocINDEX with Full Text


Hayes, R. & Levett, L. (2013) Community Members’ Perceptions of the CSI Effect American Journal of Criminal Justice June 2013, 38(2) p. 216-35 DOI: 10.1007/s12103-012-9166-2., Database: International Security & Counter Terrorism Reference Center

Mancini, D.E. (2013) The “CSI Effect” in an Actual Juror Sample: Why Crime Chow Genre May Matter North American Journal of Psychology Dec 2013 15(3) p. 543-64