Finger print identification seems like an easy, foolproof process if one bases their beliefs off television shows such as CSI or Law & Order. In reality, this identification process is very bias and subjective depending on the case, the finger print analyst and the fingerprint one is attempting to match. The film The Real CSI illustrates the various technological methods courtrooms have used as evidence for identification, ranging from teeth “bite marks,” to the smell of a body in the Casey Anthony case to our standard finger print identification process. While the first two methods clearly seem, and were quite unreliable means of evidence, not everyone is aware just how fallible finger print matching can be. One of the most positive features of our criminal justice system is that a criminal can be rightfully prosecuted and held accountable for their wrongdoings. When this process leads to correct incarceration for crimes, the criminal justice system has prevailed ethically and lawfully victorious. But, on the other hand, sometimes this is not the case. Once in a while people are wrongfully convicted and incarcerated for years. Who knows how many innocent people could still be incarcerated? As described in The Real CSI, finger print matching is not fool proof, even after multiple well-respected analysts confirmed the fingerprint to be an identical match. This was the case for Brandon Mayfield, who was wrongfully accused of being linked to a terrorist train bombing in Madrid. While he was not incarcerated (for years) like the men who were wrongfully identified by their “bite marks,” he came very close to it. This case broke ground in the sense that four well-known finger print analysts confirmed the fingerprint as a match, but in the end they were all wrong! This is where bias and subjectivity may come into play. An individual analyst may unconsciously or completely unknowingly lean towards one side or the other depending on the severity or maliciousness of the crime. In essence, they are using tools and techniques to incriminate people that have never truly been scientifically tested/approved. In addition to these questionable means of identification, anyone can easily earn their degree as a forensic consultant on ACFEI’s website. Without any previous experience or forensic knowledge, one can easily pass the certification process within 90 minutes online, as long as they make the payment to ACFEI. TV shows such as CSI or Law & Order have conditioned the public to perceive fingerprint matching as a purely computerized, foolproof process with zero error rate. This fictionalized perception has conditioned many public jurors to be impatient and confused as to why a fingerprint cannot always be immediately matched. This television- influnced attitude toward expecting an immediate fingerprint match has made it very difficult for many criminals to be convicted without forensic evidence. This misguided perception has conditioned many jurors to expect and demand copious amounts of forensic evidence to justify their conviction. Many of these jurors will not convict somebody without these forensic factors, even when there is valid evidence elsewhere. This misinformed attitude has crossed over from the courtroom into police work, where jurors now complain that police and forensic scientists are being lazy in not recovering the proper evidence. This ignorant television-based outlook has made it harder on police to collect enough evidence to stand up in court, regardless of its non-forensic validity. Unfortunately, this CSI effect has pushed the public to respect the police less and expect far too many unrealistic forensic factors when ruling convictions. Mistakes are being made which convict innocent people and let criminals walk free.

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