The Department of Criminology's faculty are tackling hot-button issues with their new Fact Check site, which features columns from faculty hoping to set the record straight.
"Almost daily from across the full political spectrum, there are public claims about crime and criminal justice that purport to be based on facts," says Richard Berk, Professor and Chair of the Department of Criminology. "Far too often, the 'facts' are wrong, misrepresented, or purposely distorted. The Department of Criminology cares deeply about facts and about criminal justice policy. There are, therefore, three objectives motivating our fact checking site: (1) to provide “true” facts when they are known, (2) to convey that facts are based on the weight of the empirical evidence and, (3) to educate about how credible facts are determined. To date, all fact checks have been written by Penn Criminology faculty. We are hoping to get Penn students supervised by faculty involved as well."
See below for a sampling of the columns.
By Richard Berk
The several television programs under the CSI (Crime Scene Investigation) brand are crime dramas depicting how sophisticated forensic tools are used to solve cases. Because such tools are based on science, they are only as good as the science on which they rest. How good is the science? As the references listed below make plain, much of the forensics depicted in television programs is at best fanciful, and real life forensics are too often not much better.