Sunday, June 24, 2007

Almost 2,000 Medical Examiners' and Coroners' Offices Investigated About One Million Deaths in 2004

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06/24/2007

Almost 13,500 Unidentified Human Remains on Record

WASHINGTON - About 2,000 medical examiners' and coroners' offices investigated almost 1 million human deaths in the U.S. during 2004, the latest year for which such data was available, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The data were compiled from the first national census of those offices, which are responsible for medical-legal death investigations.

Approximately 40 percent of all deaths in the United States were referred to medical examiners' and coroners' offices during 2004. About half (487,000) merited further investigation, the survey noted.

As of 2004, there were almost 13,500 unidentified human remains on record in medical examiner and coroners' offices across the country, but record- keeping practices varied. Aside from the remains on record, an estimated 4,400 unidentified human bodies are received in medical examiners' and coroners' offices in an average year.

Of those, an average of about 1,000 remain unidentified after one year; and about 600 undergo final disposition, such as burial, cremation or other means. Only half of medical examiners and coroners' offices in 2004 had policies for retaining records on unidentified human remains.

About 80 percent of the examining facilities in 2004 were county coroner's offices, most of which served small jurisdictions. Sixteen states had a centralized statewide medical examiner system, seven had a county medical examiner system, and 13 had a mixed county medical examiner and coroner system.

These offices employed an estimated 7,320 full-time equivalent personnel in 2004, most of whom were employed in offices serving larger jurisdictions. While only 6 percent of all offices served populations of 500,000 or more persons, these offices employed more than half of all personnel.

The examining facilities had estimated overall annual budgets of nearly $718.5 million, an average of $387,000 per office. County medical examiner budgets averaged about $715,000 per office, ranging from about $2.5 million in large jurisdictions to $18,000 in those serving small jurisdictions. County coroner budgets averaged $225,000, ranging from about $1.4 million in large jurisdictions to $41,000 among those serving small jurisdictions.

The report, Medical Examiners and Coroners' Offices, 2004, (NCJ-216756), was written by BJS statisticians Matthew J. Hickman and Kristen A. Hughes as well as Kevin J. Strom and Jeri D. Ropero-Miller, of RTI International. Following publication, it can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/meco04.htm.

For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics please visit the BJS Web site at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs.

The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Regina B. Schofield, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. Additionally, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy and OJP's American Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Desk and the Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering and Tracking (SMART) Office. More information can be found at http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov.



Sex Offender Laws Prove Problematic

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This is the same crap that occurred with Christopher Barrios in Georgia. The father (a sex offender as well), was forced to move next to other sex offenders due to the law, and his son was killed because of it. So is that justice?

06/24/2007

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - When Sapulpa police told Nancy Phipps who her neighbors would be at a motel on the northern edge of Sapulpa, she burst into tears.

Phipps, who has a 16-year-old daughter, had moved into a motel with dozens of sex offenders, including child molesters, rapists and other sexual predators.

"When he pulled up that list, I just started crying," said Phipps, 42. "I told him, 'How are we going to be able to do this?'"

Because of a 2002 deferred sentence she received for flashing and soliciting an undercover officer while she says she was under the influence of prescription medication, Phipps is registered sex offender.

As lawmakers in Oklahoma and across the country increase the penalties and restrictions for convicted sex offenders, some low-level offenders like Phipps are getting caught in the net.

Oklahoma law prohibits any convicted sex offender from living within a 2,000-foot radius of any school, educational institution, playground, park or licensed child care facility. As a result, virtually 90% of large metropolitan areas like Oklahoma City and Tulsa are off limits to offenders.

For Phipps and her daughter, it meant moving to one of a handful of seedy motels at the edge of Tulsa County outside the legal boundary where dozens of sex offenders have gone to live.

"It was horrible," Phipps said. "They were starting to knock on the door and call us on the phone. We were so afraid, I just said forget it. If they're going to come and arrest me, so be it."

Phipps has since moved to a homeless shelter in Tulsa while she searches for a safer place to move with her daughter.

"I'm just hoping I can find another place to live before they arrest me."

Because of a federal mandate, Oklahoma lawmakers did develop a tiered system for identifying sex offenders by placing them in one of three categories based on their risk level to society.

However, they chose not to apply the tiered system to residency restrictions and actually made some of the registration requirements, even for lower-level offenders, more restrictive.

In many cases, lawmakers implement harsh laws targeting sex offenders in reaction to a traumatic event like a child abduction and rape. The laws often result in unintended consequences, but lawmakers lack the political will to ease restrictions on sex offenders because of how voters may perceive them, said Jeffery Walker, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
- It has been several years now, so I think the "unintended consequences" is old now. They know of the consequences, and are not doing anything to change the laws.

Sex offender registries and systems for notifying the public were good ideas, but residency restrictions and so-called "zones of safety" that prohibit sex offenders from going to certain places where children congregate have not proved to be effective, said Walker, who co-wrote a 2003 national review of sex offender and registration laws.
- The laws WERE working before they changed them. So put them back to how they were and all this mess you created would be over, and everyone can get back to their lives.

"Never underestimate our ability to screw up something good," Walker said. "We always have a tendency to take something too far, and what we wind up doing is overburdening the police. We keep piling up laws to where they can't deal with them all."

Another problem is that many sex offenders simply go underground and stop registering or stop complying with the law so that they can find a place to live.
- And this doesn't protect anybody, and makes the situation worse!

"We have seen, particularly since the residency restrictions went into place, an increase in the people not complying with the address restrictions," said Jim Rabon, the head of sentencing administration for the Oklahoma Department of Corrections.

Phipps acknowledges she's been tempted not to register, but says she wants to comply and find a safe place for her and her daughter to live.

"There are a lot of (offenders) here in Tulsa who are underground, because there is just no place to go. There is nowhere to live. You're just stuck," she said. "It's getting down to the wire for us and there's really nothing I can do about it."



New laws will serve to further protect children from predators

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Instead of making a special Bill or law for police officers why don’t you hold them to the same standard as everyone else? When a police officer sexually violates a minor he or she not only destroys trust, but being in a position of power, responsibility, and authority is worse than a person not in that position. You are so kind to be so lenient. Again we see legislators and other people in positions of authority or power make laws that they don’t have to hold to, but will make others hold to more stringent laws. An officer who sexually violates a minor is a sex offender and ought to register as a sexual predator, a person who preys upon someone else’s child. The officer did not commit an act of incest but violated a child of someone else, a clear example of stranger danger, someone who pretends to be a token of safety and trust. He or she is a low life despicable person because they hide behind that badge, and now you even help them to continue doing so by making a Bill just for them to be lenient and so forgiving and understanding. This is pure putrid clap trap. (Comments by B.W.)

06/24/2007

Two measures recently have been introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives regarding sexual predators, and I am proud to have co-sponsored both of them. One bill represents our latest effort to prevent recognized predators from perpetrating more crimes. The other bill acknowledges the position of public trust peace officers occupy and creates a specific crime for instances in which peace officers engage in sexual conduct with a minor.

House Bill 241, introduced by Rep. Tracy Heard (D-Columbus), requires "any person required to register under Ohio's Sex Offender Registration and Notification Law who establishes or occupies residential premises within 1,000 feet of any school premises, recreation center, playground, or other place where it is reasonable to expect children to frequent or linger is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree and to require a court to order a violator to vacate the premises as part of any injunctive relief granted for the violation."

In plain English, this bill adds recreation centers, playgrounds and other places where it is reasonable to expect children to frequent or linger to the locations where sex offenders might not live. Given the fact many children do use these types of facilities and often do so outside with little supervision, it makes sense to add these types of locations to give sexual predators fewer opportunities to commit future crimes. Additionally, the bill also allows the court to issue an injunction that would prevent the predator from living in a home near any of these locations and violation of this injunction would be a contempt of court violation.

House Bill 209, introduced by Rep. Tony Core (R-Rushsylvania), would expand the offense of "sexual battery" to include peace officers who have sexual relations with minors who are not spouses of the officer. The current law would treat peace officers the same as any other person who is younger than 26 and has sexual relations with a minor between the ages of 16 and 18. This includes possibly not having to register as a sexual offender if convicted.

I co-sponsored HB 209 because I think it is appropriate to expect peace officers to respect the positions of authority they have in our communities (especially over minors), to hold them to a higher standard and to charge them with a higher felony degree when they perpetrate such actions, because not only have they violated the rights of a minor but they also have abused and violated the trust our community and state have placed in them.

As your state representative, I always am ready and willing to discuss any issue regarding state government with you. Please feel free to contact me by mail at 77 S. High St., 10th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215-6111; phone at (614) 466-2500; or e-mail at district91@ohr.state.oh.us. with any compliments, complaints or comments that you may have. As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve as your state representative.



More Hard Time For Judge In Sex Toy Case

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06/23/2007

TULSA - For the second time in less than a year, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board has unanimously denied parole for convicted sex offender Donald Thompson, ex-Creek County district judge.

Thompson’s wife Paula had asked the board for leniency, saying that her husband would return to Sapulpa where the couple resides. She said he would operate a car wash and tend their rental properties. Thompson didn’t attend the hearing.

Thompson, 60, is serving four, one year sentences in state prison after being convicted last year of indecent exposure for using a penis pump while presiding over four trials in 2002 and 2003. He was also fined $40,000

Richard Smothermon, special prosecutor, argued that Thompson had learned nothing from his conviction, thought he was above the law and had refused sex offender counseling. He told the board that he had recordings of Thompson engaging in phone sex with his alleged mistress Angela McClanahan since Thompson’s incarceration. Prison calls are recorded.

The parole board had also voted unanimously in December to deny Thompson parole. He is scheduled for release in October if he is given credit for good behavior.

The former judge had claimed the penis pump was a gag gift from a friend for his 50th birthday. Despite eyewitness accounts, Thompson claimed he wasn’t guilty of masturbating on the bench as charged and said the local police were out to get his client because Thompson had made rulings unfavorable to them.

Thompson had turned down a plea deal pre-trial which would have spared him prison with a guilty plea to three misdemeanor counts of outraging public decency. The plea deal would also have allowed him to keep his $93,468 annual pension.

Thompson, a former state legislator, had been a judge for nearly 23 years before he retired in 2004 amid the allegations. His attorney had admitted that Thompson had purchased another penis pump after a doctor who was treating him for erectile dysfunction and other medical problems had recommended it

After the Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System ruled to withhold Thompson’s retirement benefits of $7,789 a month—$93,468 annually—Thompson appealed, saying he should collect his pension while he’s sitting in prison.

His pension appeal will be heard following his release from prison.