What do you think of sites like this? Does it help or hurt for information to be posted on websites that give the general public details about crimes, whether solved or not? There seems to be a debate about whether giving information allows the general public to be more active in supplying details that may help solve crimes, or if it simply feeds the fuel of other criminally-minded people to go out and commit more crimes?




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Comment by Andrea Campbell on April 12, 2007 at 4:11pm
Cynthia, Hey,

I write two for crime blogs: the first is about the "CSI Effect." http://www.thecsieffect.blogspot.com Basically this site details the disparity between TV crime drama and real life. (I am also trying to market a book called The Myth of CSI.) Most of my colleagues in forensic science tell me they cannot dispell their belief enough to enjoy the CSI-type TV programs. It has made their industry more difficult in that the general viewing public (I call them "Armchair Detectives,") feel that they have become educated by watching these shows.

But truly, they have witnessed a lot of mis-information and dis-information. And now that a generation has grown up on these programs, they find themselves in jury pools with unrealistic expectations. If you are any friend of science, you will know from the Crime Lab Project, initiated by our own crime novelist's Jan Burke—and you will know that some things are not quite right. So I actually feel that I am helping to dispel some of the nonsense with my blog; and I do go so far as to use statistics and data to back up my opinions.

The other crime blog I write for is made up of true crime writers and professionals in the forensic science field. It's called In Cold Blog and can be found at: http://www.incoldblog.blogspot.com It begins soon, and I am in most prestigious company. Now this particular setting will probably explain some crime outcomes and that may, in fact, share knowledge, but I think what it will do it to inform people that they can have some power over their environment by choosing to become more savvy when it comes to who they decide to share their lives with. (And I am not sure about other content, but I feel it will be quite valuable in the long run.)

You know a student asked me last week, (see the blog thread on my own site: Andrea Campbell) if television was educating criminals? Even though conventional wisdom tells us it is, for my own satisfaction I go to first-person sources. For this query I spoke to someone who worked as a warden at a prison. And, yes, criminals tune into these shows and watch and learn. Law enforcement coworkers tell me they see more bleach clean-up at crime scenes and other evidence that this is true. Yet, we cannot unturn the wheel. It's already been spun.

What this may do, however, is keep technology and science on its toes in order to foil the criminal at his work. That can't be bad. And should make us wiser.

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