Advertisement
In this March 13, 2007 file photo, Steven Avery listens to testimony in the courtroom at the Calumet County Courthouse in Chilton, Wis. Avery was convicted of first-degree intentional homicide in a case featured on the Netflix series "Making a Murderer." (Photo: AP/Morry Gash, Pool, File)

Fifteen years ago, I left Manhattan expecting that I would work as a forensic scientist. It was what I believed I wanted, having spent the prior two years studying at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, one of the oldest forensic-science graduate school programs in the country.

But when I returned to New York in 2005, I was not a forensic scientist. I was a writer, largely writing crime fiction and true crime. It wasn’t for lack of trying: The year before, I’d interviewed with every major forensic biology lab on the East Coast of the United States and Canada. None of them hired me. Serious soul-searching uncovered the reason: I was a macro thinker in a micro world, more interested in cases and people and psychology than in repetitive laboratory analysis.

What I learned in school made me a better journalist and a better writer because forensic science is, as scientific disciplines must be, about critical thinking and objective analysis. But it also made me less patient with how the field is depicted in film and television, and more appreciative when books and programs take the time to get it right.

With the more recent boom in true-crime programming, and the proliferation of podcasts ranging from highly investigative to loosely comedic, I wanted to know what forensic-science experts — including former classmates and instructors of mine at John Jay — felt about the increased attention to real-life crime.

Read more.

Advertisement
Advertisement