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      Wooten says lawmakers need to make tougher laws

      By Ava Wilhiteawilhite@abcnews4.com

      CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) From yellow tape to the coroner's office, Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten is hoping lawmakers will step up in 2014.

      "I don't think our laws have kept up with the kinds of things that are available investigatively, and they don't always support that. So I think we need to revisit some of that," she said.

      In the past year, Wooten's office ruled 34 deaths homicides. Not all of those cases could be prosecuted as murders, but that could change with a new law.

      "There are not laws in place, for instance, that compel drug and alcohol testing for parents who have custody of the child and the child dies in their care. Even if there is evidence that there may be drug and alcohol use, that is playing a role there, there are no laws that allow us to compel testing," said Wooten.

      Wooten says tighter laws would also prevent first time offenders from becoming violent offenders.

      "As they grow up, they don't quit committing violent or illegal acts and frequently they escalate. What starts as a somewhat small infraction in our world becomes a greater and greater infraction," said Wooten. {}

      Wooten says she recognizes the task in front of lawmakers, but believes closing legal gaps will save lives.

      "I think we could have some laws passed and that's not easy I recognize that absolutely, passing laws is very difficult, but I think it's probably indicated. I think what it does is to some extent is we tighten the hamstrings on law enforcement," said Wooten. {}

      Wooten says until society can start to have effective intervention earlier in criminal histories, not much can be done to change what statistics show will follow.{}

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