Tracing Technologies: Prisoners' Views in the Era of CSI (Hardback) book cover

Tracing Technologies

Prisoners' Views in the Era of CSI

By Helena Machado, Barbara Prainsack

© 2012 – Routledge

232 pages

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Hardback: 9781409430742
pub: 2012-04-28
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About the Book

The real heroes of television crime shows in the twenty-first century are no longer police detectives but forensic technologies. The immense popularity of high-tech crime television shows has changed the way in which crime scene work is viewed. The term 'CSI-effect' was coined to signify a situation where people's views and practices have been influenced by such media representations, e.g. judges and jurors putting more weight on forensic evidence that has been produced with high-tech tools - in particular, DNA evidence - than on other kinds of evidence. While considerable scholarly attention has been paid to examining the CSI effect on publics, jurors, judges, and police investigators, prisoners' views on forensic technologies and policing have been under-explored. Drawing on a research sample of over 50 interviews carried out with prisoners in Portugal and Austria, this groundbreaking book shows how prisoners view crime scene traces, how they understand crime scene technologies, and what effect they attribute to the existence of large police databases on their own lives, careers, and futures. Through critically engaging with STS, sociological and criminological perspectives on the use of DNA technologies within the criminal justice system, this work provides the reader with valuable insights into the effect of different legal, political, discursive, and historical configurations on how crime scene technologies are utilized by the police and related to by convicted offenders.


'… the book adds to the field's knowledge regarding the impact of the CSI effect on prisoners and is written for scholars and practitioners in the fields of criminal justice and legal studies. Additionally, individuals interested in forensics as well as those intrigued by the impact mass media has on our understanding of the legal system may benefit from this book.' International Criminal Justice Review 'Tracing Technologies offers a remarkably knowledgeable and clear account on the societal dimensions and implications of forensic and police uses of DNA analysis by two leading scholars in the field. It is the first empirical study to investigate prisoners' views on forensic technologies in the era of CSI, providing fascinating insights in a so far under-explored field of research.' Thomas Lemke, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany 'This book is one of the rare cases where a highly specialised field of expert knowledge links to broader issues of social theory. Tracing the use of DNA-profiles in the criminal justice system in two European countries, Portugal and Austria, the authors develop a history of the techno-medical modern gaze on the criminal, with a specific focus on the reflexive view of the prisoners, i.e. the subjects primarily targeted by this technology. Stretching from close scrutiny of empirical analysis to a bird's eye perspective on cultural, political and societal structures Machado and Prainsack demonstrate the close linkages of surveillance, modernity and technology. This book will inform scholars of criminology, forensic sciences, science and technology studies and social theory alike.' Reinhard Kreissl, Institut für Rechts- und Kriminalsoziologie, Austria 'The book is a helpful and informative source for all those people who are aware of and also research the impact that 'genetic information' has on today's society.' Austrian Journal of Political Science 'By giving prisoners a voice in the debate, Machado and Prainsack make a valuable c

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, Troy Duster; Introduction; Setting the scene: Austria; Setting the scene: Portugal; Inside jobs: how to avoid crime scene traces; Biological traces: ’the evidence doesn’t lie’; In everybody, ’there’s always a bug inside’: does DNA profiling and databasing deter criminals?; Technologies of innocence: exoneration and exculpation; Criminal bodies and abusive authorities; Conclusion; Afterword: forensic DNA and the human sciences, Robin Williams; References; Glossary; References; Index.

About the Authors

Helena Machado is Professor of Sociology at the University of Minho, Portugal and Barbara Prainsack is Professor of Sociology and Politics of Bioscience at Brunel University, UK

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Forensic Science