You can always depend on John Oliver and his Last Week Tonight team to put important issues that fall through the cracks on a mainstream platform. This time around, Oliver took on the infamous “CSI effect,” which is generally the result of the cavalcade of generic crime analysis dramas misinforming the public (and potential jury members) on the use of complicated forensic science. Dependence on bad science, as Oliver informs us, has left innocent people behind bars and guilty people on the streets.
After an amusing montage of “eureka!” moments in crime dramas such as CSI, Oliver shifts to the shocking realities of forensic analysis. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, many forensic sciences “do not meet the fundamental requirements of science,” and other studies have demonstrated an overdependence on these faulty sciences. As cool as saying “within a reasonable degree of scientific certainty” may sound in court, the often-used phrase has no actual meaning, Oliver points out.
Oliver drops some statistics about how a vast majority of convictions were based on flawed forensic testimony, with the shocking added detail that some of these convicts have since been executed. This issue becomes more disturbing once Oliver shows footage of people mistakenly convicted of crimes due to inaccurate and easily botched methodologies such as hair analysis and bite mark analysis. And as Oliver points out, even something highly regarded such as fingerprint analysis can result in errors.
While states like Texas (surprisingly) passed legislation to combat “junk science,” Oliver emphasized that not enough is being done on this issue at the federal level. While the National Commission on Forensic Science made some strides in this mission, the commission was shut down in April by none other than Attorney General and known crybaby, liar and idiot Jeff Sessions.
Watch the segment embedded above, and be sure to catch a parody of a certain crime scene investigation television show at the end.