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CJ 430 Monroe College Characteristics of A Very Good Forensic Scientist Discussion

CJ 430 Monroe College Characteristics of A Very Good Forensic Scientist Discussion

Question Description

Based on the passage below: Discuss whether it is possible to enrich forensics work in any way.

“So, you want to be a forensic scientist” on page 185 as well as copied below:

No more glamorous position exists in the criminal justice system than being a forensic scientist, at least as portrayed by contemporary television shows such as CSI and CSI: Miami. For many students interested in a career in forensic science, the weekly portrayals conjure up images of excitement and fulfillment tracking down suspects and ultimately catching the bad guy through the use of fancy technology and techniques of forensic investigation. Too bad television portrayals of forensics work are not consistent with the reality of the work. Here is the reality.

A vast majority of forensics work is structured through a laboratory and involves techniques that have nowhere near the degree of sophistication presented by weekly television shows. To begin, to become a forensic scientist means knowing the basics of biology, chemistry, and life sciences. Forensic scientists are just that—scientists! All of them come from backgrounds that require a heavy dose of biology, molecular biology, organic chemistry, inorganic chemistry, analytical chemistry, and, to some degree, depending on specialty, training in human anatomy, blood serology, and the modern techniques of DNA analysis. Forensic science is about science, and preparation through the hard sciences is extensive and necessary.

In addition, a career in forensic science very rarely leads you out of the laboratory. Most physical evidence forensic scientists use in criminal cases is brought to them by police and other investigative agencies. Analyses of blood samples, hair fibers, and other trace evidence, for example, are conducted in laboratories under restrictions to which forensics laboratories must comply, given their accreditation standards and governmental rules and regulations. In recent years, these laboratories have come under much scrutiny for poor handling of evidence, the contamination of evidence, and, in some rare cases, the fabrication of evidence. Forensic laboratories must hire people who have a heavy science background, usually college degrees in biology and chemistry, and provide a work environment that is fairly routine and predictable, akin to the Tayloristic strategies outlined in the chapter. This allows them to defend their practices when allegations of wrongdoing are made.

Moreover, careers in forensics work are fairly limited, and, for most starting their careers in crime labs, the vast majority of the work involves drug screening. Unless you have highly specialized knowledge, forensic entomology, for example, you will probably be stuck in the lab doing rather routine work. Can the work be structured any differently? This question is difficult to answer. Unlike many other jobs in criminal justice that have wider autonomy and greater discretion, most forensics work is routine and structured best under a traditional design strategy.

This is not to suggest that exciting developments are not happening in the forensics field, such as advances in DNA training and the promulgation of death investigation standards for medical examiners, police, and coroners, which may require alternative work arrangements. Yet, for most crime lab work, the future is the same as the past: We uncover relevant evidence in the laboratory, and the work is very routine and mundane.

So, do you still want to be a forensic scientist? Given the structure and design of most state crime laboratories, it is not clear that many alternatives exist to the traditional ways of doing forensics work. Forensic scientists will always be needed to employ scientific techniques to aid in the prosecution of criminal suspects, but from a job design perspective, given the nature of most of the work, the reality is that you will more likely be chasing the bad guy through your microscope rather than a red Ferrari.

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