The Myth of CSI

The Controversy about whether the state’s chief medical examiner falsified his credentials puts one more crack in our national myth about crime scene investigations. That myth, created by the CSI shows that have been a staple of TV for the past decade, portray crime labs as models of ultra-modern efficiency, where dedicated investigators use stateof-the-art (or even fictional) science to solve impossible cases in the course of an hour.

Over the past several years we’ve learned that the image is quite far from reality. The quality of American crime scene forensics is wildly inconsistent: many labs have poorly trained investigators, antiquated equipment, and cases backed up for weeks. In some labs, investigators have purposely altered test results in order to get findings that favor the prosecution. Here are a few recent examples:
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