Lobbying for an Accidental Death?
Follow @GretchenMargAugust 30, 2011, 2:00 pm ET
The manner of a person’s death is statistically less likely to be deemed suicide in California counties that rely on elected sheriff-coroners, according to a new study conducted by Temple University sociologists.
California Watch reporter Ryan Gabrielson explains why that may be significant:
In California, 48 of its 58 counties rely on elected sheriffs to determine the manner of someone’s death. This is different than cause of death, Gabrielson points out:
Some other startling standards:
+ In Nebraska coroners are often also the county attorney.
+ Indiana and Wyoming require completion of a basic coroner-training course and some additional annual training. An 18-year-old made headlines when she was elected deputy coroner in Jay County, Ind. while still in high school.
+ North Dakota requires that coroners be licensed physicians, but only in counties of more than 8,000 people.
A 2009 report from the National Academy of Sciences recommended abolishing coroners in favor of new offices, run by medical examiners, establishing new offices, run by medical examiners, with national standards for accreditation.
Many states are moving towards a medical examiner system, but the process has been slowed by the reality that coroners are usually written into a state constitution, are often backed by a local constituency and generally don’t have large enough populations or budgets to support the conversion.
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