Monthly Archives: March 2008

Prescription Meds on Rise in Drug Culture

Who’d heard of a pharmacy robbery 10 years ago?

Obviously, something in a pharmacy has to have become valuable enough to certain members of society that they’d be willing to take it by force.

And as many of us know, that “something,” is prescription painkillers, mainly opiate-based medications such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Methadone.

Those drugs — whose effects are more are less akin to heroin’s — are supposed to be used to treat cancer patients and those recovering from serious injuries. But they’re terribly addictive. And now, a growing portion of society’s drug addicts are hooked not just on meth, cocaine, and heroin, but also drugs with an FDA stamp of approval.

But why is it growing?

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Strange Patterns in Kitsap’s Tragedies

This months, the deaths of Michele Burton and Girlie Weight have shocked and saddened their families and friends.

At a county level, I’m fairly certain Kitsap hasn’t been home to two homicides in one month since November 2005.

The last three homicides — the two above plus Jeffrey McKinstry last October — were stabbing deaths.

That’s unusual in and of itself. Around the state in 2006 (the last crime statistics released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs), gun deaths from homicides outnumbered stabbing deaths by more than 3 to 1.

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Red Light Cameras: Too Effective for a City’s Own Good?

The Bremerton Police Department is still in the testing phase of its brand new red light cameras, recently installed around the city. But when they officially turn on, officials hope they’ll curb accidents and, secondarily, produce a monetary side-effect that funds a few more officers to patrol the city’s streets.

But an MSNBC story poses an interesting question about the cameras: What if they work too well, and motorists become so cautious that red-light running revenue dries up?

In Dallas, Texas, MSNBC says, that’s exactly what’s happening. Accidents are falling in number, but so too is revenue from tickets — down from $15 million to about $4 million.

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Where Do Kitsap’s Felons Go to Prison?

For an upcoming story, I’ve gathered the data that shows where Kitsap County residents serving prison time are housed around the state.

Use the Google map below (I’d recommend enlarging it) to see how many Kitsap residents are at each site. I’ve also included some interesting facts about each prison in the state, the number of inmates at the different sites, and how much it costs per year to house them there.

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Wiggins Contemplates Supreme Court Run — But Opts Out

Charlie Wiggins, a long-time Bainbridge-based attorney and one-time court of appeals judge, pondered a run for the state supreme court.

He’d explored filing with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. But when I called him Wednesday for a possible story, he said he’d had a change of heart.

“The timing just didn’t seem right to me,” said Wiggins, a graduate of the Duke School of Law.

Still, that doesn’t mean Wiggins will be out of the sphere of Washington legal issues. He maintains a practice on Bainbridge Island and handles mostly appeals in civil cases. As past president of the Washington chapter of the American Judicature Society, he’s been quoted in numerous stories criticizing the way judges for elections are funded. He’s even served on the Kitsap Sun’s editorial board.

Races for judiciary seats — from the state supreme court down to the superior court — will ramp up after filing week in June. I’d love to hear thoughts from readers about why they care — or don’t care — about electing judges.

Public Defense: State Funding Fight to Keep Itself Honest

Grant County’s public defense debacle seemed to serve as a lesson to the state legislature: while indigent defense funding might not always top the list of priorities for our elected representatives and senators, lack of funding for it constitutes a violation of our constitutional rights.

In essence, the government charges you with a crime, but the very same government, for those who can’t afford it, also pays for you to fight your charges and thus attempt to keep itself honest.

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Suspect in Pierce County Homicides Held at Bangor

A Fort Lewis solider is being held at the Trident Submarine Base at Bangor for the double homicide of a Parkland couple March 1, numerous media outlets have reported.

The woman, Army Spc. Ivette Gonzalez Davila, 22, is alleged by Pierce County Prosecutors to have killed Timothy and Randi Miller. Prosecutors believe she was mad at Randi Miller because she believed she’d had an affair with her ex-boyfriend.

The army has stepped up to handle the case, rather than let the civilian courts have at it, local media have reported. But doesn’t Fort Lewis have a place to put her while she awaits trial or contemplates a guilty plea?

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Is Your iPod Emboldening Crooks?

Small, valuable and easy to pawn: the iPod has revolutionized the way we listen to music, but it may also be revolutionizing thieves’ habits, according to an article by the Urban Institute, a public policy think tank.

The researchers claim that not only the device’s size, value and resale-ability lend it to a thief’s wish list. It’s also that a user is particularly vulnerable, oblivious to the world around him because of the music blaring at his ear drums.

But they go farther: is the iPod responsible for an actual increase in theft — and even violent crime? A so-called “iCrime” wave is not out of the realm of possibilities, they argue, as robbery and other crimes have increased during the same time as the iPod’s rise.

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DNA ‘Hits’ Bring Rapid Rise in Convictions

Most of the time, CBS’ Crime Scene Investigators paints a high tech (if not-entirely-accurate) picture of the criminal justice system.

But here’s one technique law enforcement in Washington has been successful in implementing, a la CSI — a growing database of felons’ DNA that is putting more of them in prison.

There were 39 “hits” — DNA that was found at a crime scene that matched a felon in their database — in February, according to the Washington State Patrol, which operates the state’s crime lab.

The state averaged just nine “hits” per month in 2007.

State law requires those convicted of felonies and some gross misdemeanors to provide a DNA sample to the crime lab. And seeing as felons usually earn more than one trip to the gray bar hotel, having the sample on file can “bring a speedy closure to those later, more serious cases,” said WSP Chief John Batiste.

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