Thousands of People Falsely Convicted for Drugs in Boston Scandal

Picture: Vectorportal, Flickr (CC)

Although ‘scandal’ implies this is some sort of isolated incident, those who follow these sorts of stories know that problems are rife in the War on Crime and the War on (certain) Drugs, with a flawed methodology and biased ideology resulting in thinly-veiled acts of war against minorities and the impoverished classes.

Phillip Smith writes in the Drug War Chronicle (found via AlterNet):

Court administrators in Massachusetts are scrambling to set up special court sessions to address the cases of more than a thousand people imprisoned after being convicted of drug crimes based on lab evidence submitted by Annie Dookhan, the now disgraced former state crime lab analyst. Dookhan herself was arrested last Friday for her fraudulent work at the lab, as the scandal continues to reverberate across the state’s criminal justice system.

According to State Police reports obtained by the Boston Globe, Dookhan has admitted not performing proper lab tests on drug samples for “two or three years,” forging colleagues’ signatures, and improperly removing evidence from storage. Citing the same reports, the Boston Herald reported that Dookhan had admitted to “intentionally turning a negative sample into a positive a few times” and to “dry-labbing” samples, where she classified samples as drugs without actually testing them.

“I messed up bad, it’s my fault,” Dookhan told police, explaining that “she did what she did in order to get more work done.”

Dookhan’s misconduct, which first came to light in June 2011, has already shaken the Dept. of Public Health, whose commissioner, John Auerbach, has resigned, as have two other managers at the Hinton Laboratories facility in Jamaica Plain where the lab was located. The crime lab was consolidated earlier this year into the Dept. of Public Safety as part of a budgetary move.

The incident has also raised the question of systemic issues affecting the crime lab. In internal emails leaked to the Globe, laboratory staff went on record as far back as 2008 describing “the situation in the evidence office [as] past the breaking point.” That was before some of the now former management at Hinton took those positions, though not before Dookhan. The Globe article describes “a staff drowning in work, instances of misplaced evidence in crime cases, and mounting frustrations over the Patrick administration’s seeming indifference.”

Read more at the Drug War Chronicle.

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  • Apathesis

    Another reason why MASSACHUSETTS is a fucking shithole.  Don’t move here; if you’re already here, save yourself and get out. Just don’t make it New Hampshire if you’re going to bring your anti-gun stupidity.

  • Apathesis

    Another reason why MASSACHUSETTS is a fucking shithole.  Don’t move here; if you’re already here, save yourself and get out. Just don’t make it New Hampshire if you’re going to bring your anti-gun stupidity.

    • JohnFrancisBittrich

      I’d still rather live in Cambridge then anywhere else I’ve ever been. I left for a while and tried New York and the Pacific Northwest, but something always brings me back. The local politics are terrible, but at least people here say what they mean and are (usually) well informed.

    • JohnFrancisBittrich

      I’d still rather live in Cambridge then anywhere else I’ve ever been. I left for a while and tried New York and the Pacific Northwest, but something always brings me back. The local politics are terrible, but at least people here say what they mean and are (usually) well informed.

      • JohnFrancisBittrich

        and New Hampshire is the worst state in New England, hands down. Bunch of racists and Randians and douchebags like John Sununu.

        • Apathesis

          I never said New Hampshire was great, but at least you can buy a new handgun there without crossing your top five picks right off your list.  The selection in Massachusetts is a joke and a nightmare for collectors.

    • Rash

      At least POT is decriminalized in Massachusetts. 100 dollar fine for anything under half an ounce, and we have state issued health insurance if you can’t afford it on your own. This was an individual lab not a state problem. NH is the worse, boring as shit, full of hicks and no jobs.  

    • Rash

      At least POT is decriminalized in Massachusetts. 100 dollar fine for anything under half an ounce, and we have state issued health insurance if you can’t afford it on your own. This was an individual lab not a state problem. NH is the worse, boring as shit, full of hicks and no jobs.  

      • Apathesis

        It still makes the state look bad, like Menino does every time he opens his mouth or gets reelected.

      • Apathesis

        It still makes the state look bad, like Menino does every time he opens his mouth or gets reelected.

  • IrishPotatoGun

    And yet the people behind biggest exposed drug ring (Iran-Contra) Bush Sr. and Clinton go on to be president.  WTF!

  • IrishPotatoGun

    And yet the people behind biggest exposed drug ring (Iran-Contra) Bush Sr. and Clinton go on to be president.  WTF!

  • IrishPotatoGun

    And yet the people behind biggest exposed drug ring (Iran-Contra) Bush Sr. and Clinton go on to be president.  WTF!

  • alizardx

    Sounds like a class action suit in Boston’s future. 

  • alizardx

    Sounds like a class action suit in Boston’s future. 

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    interesting that overwork didn’t lead to the freedom of the “guilty”
    but made the innocent criminals
    which is how that system really works

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    interesting that overwork didn’t lead to the freedom of the “guilty”
    but made the innocent criminals
    which is how that system really works

  • alizardx

    I see a class action suit in Boston’s future.

  • alizardx

    I see a class action suit in Boston’s future.

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