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Coroner's Tour

Coroner's Tour — An attempt to "scare kids straight" by exposing young offenders to the horrors of the county morgue. Participants view a series of graphic photos of grisly death—car accidents, gun wounds, drug overdoses, etc. Then they are taken into the back and shown real dead bodies.

We haven't taken the tour, and it isn't open to the public, only to juvenile miscreants who have sent there by the court. We suspect that the reaction of most of them is the same as ours would be when we were between the ages of 14 and 18.

Cool!

Kids these days love gore. They have probably seen similar photos on the internet. At their age, they have already witnessed, what?, 30,000 fictional murders on television (not including planetary annihilations). Seeing real bodies is certainly a unique advantage of this tour but probably not something that is going to deter anyone from their current path.

It sounds to us like a watered-down version of the Halloween Fright Dome at the Circus-Circus casino, which local youths are eager attend without any court order. The Fright Dome is a nighttime conversion of the indoor Adventuredome amusement park and includes four haunted houses (one of them the "Morgue of Misery"), two haunted rides, a circus freak show, roving psycho killers, plus all of the usual attractions of the amusement park.... all for $30!

The coroner's tour includes only one haunted house and costs each kid $45. Which would you choose?

We suspect (but cannot prove) that the coroner's program has little effect on kids' attitude toward death and dying. Kids are immortal when they go into the program and immortal when they come out. This doesn't mean the program should be scrapped, however. It is part of the symbolic package of "consequences" meted out to kids who have broken the law. It is cheaper than a night in juvvie, and it gives the law-and-order element of our society the sense that kids aren't getting off easy.

The main problem with the Fright Dome is that it runs only during the month of October, while the coroner's program operates year round. This suggests a fantastic opportunity for the county. Why not open the coroner's program to everyone! At $45 a head, it might fund a significant portion of our Juvenile Justice System. Nothing could be more Vegas! We could move the facility to the Strip, tie it in with CSI and promote the hell out of it through the usual channels. Sharks, lions, roller coasters, and visit a real morgue. We guarantee it would be an instant hit!

Just an idea. Think about it.

Articles and Links

Deterrence program teaches grim lessons (Las Vegas Sun, 4/21/05)

Critical comments on the program by criminologist Randall G. Shelden.

Office of the Clark County Coroner

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