Kitsap Crime and Justice

The Kitsap Sun staff writes about crime and criminal justice issues.
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Archive for December, 2011

One in three, arrested by 23

Monday, December 19th, 2011

A fascinating, if troubling, study released Monday finds that one in three young people will be arrested by age 23.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests growth in the “arrest record” population of the United States. From the New York Times report:

The study, the first since the 1960s to look at the arrest histories of a national sample of adolescents and young adults over time, found that 30.2 percent of the 23-year-olds who participated reported having been arrested for an offense other than a minor traffic violation.

The study, at first glance, makes me wonder: Are there more arrests because there are more cops and criminal justice infrastructure today, or because more young people are law-breaking?  Legendary criminologist Alfred Blumstein said in USA Today that “the increase in arrests for young people in the latest study is unsurprising given several decades of tough crime policies.

“I was astonished 44 years ago. Most people were,” says Blumstein, a professor of operations research at the Heinz College at Carnegie Mellon University who served with Christensen on President Lyndon Johnson’s crime task force.

Now, Blumstein says, youth may be arrested for drugs and domestic violence, which were unlikely offenses to attract police attention in the 1960s. “There’s a lot more arresting going on now,” he says.

My second curiosity is what the study, if accurate, means for our society. Such widespread exposure to our bulky criminal justice system might not be a bad thing — it might steer an otherwise law-abiding citizen from a lapse in judgement later on. Then again, acclimation to the criminal justice system could also desensitize the experience and actually decrease someone’s fear of law-breaking.


Poulsbo cold case surfaces

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

“Poulsbo Police are investigating as a homicide the death of Donald E. Hellie, 47, 194 6th Avenue., in Poulsbo, whose body was found in his home by police Saturday afternoon.” 

Those were the words of a brief story that ran in the Bremerton Sun 34 years ago, on Sept. 19, 1977. Why are we bringing it up now? It turns out his violent stabbing death had eluded kitsapsun.com‘s database of unsolved homicides spanning the last half-century.

We published the database in May 2010 following several months of research. We knew we might miss a case or two. And sure enough, after the database was posted, we received several calls and emails that referenced deaths we’d missed.

Earlier this year, we relayed the story of 20-year-old Matthew Evans, when his body was found on a Saturday morning in August 1993 along Old Clifton Road. His death, classified as a homicide, has been added as well.

But I’d also heard from readers in Poulsbo since the database was published. And so I asked the Poulsbo Police Department to look in their files and see if they had any cold cases. I got some limited information this week, but it included a date of death: September 16, 1977.

Using that, I got into our newspaper archives and found a few clippings around that date. Lo and behold, I found three articles (which you see here) pertaining to the homicide.

The case is cold, but open — and now, added to the database. And as we’ve said before, it’s important to remember these cases for posterity. But any helpful tips toward solving the cases will have made the project worthwhile.


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