The whole saga behind disgraced lab chemist Annie Dookhan that I wrote about last year just continues to get worse and worse.

Dookhan was sentenced in 2013 to at least three years in prison, after pleading guilty in 2012 to having falsified thousands of drug tests. Among her extracurricular crime lab activities, Dookhan failed to properly test drug samples before declaring them positive, mixed up samples to create positive tests, forged signatures, and lied about her own credentials. Over her nine-year career, Dookhan tested about 60,000 samples involved in roughly 34,000 criminal cases. Three years later, the state of Massachusetts still can’t figure out how to repair the damage she wrought almost single-handedly.

Of course, there are also an awful lot of folks whose convictions were predicated on a massive fraud. Many of them don’t even know this, and most cannot afford to hire attorneys to reopen their cases. Even if they have already served their sentences, the collateral impact of having drug convictions infects every part of their lives. Who is responsible for fixing that?

In Massachusetts it doesn’t even end there. Only a few months after Dookhan’s conviction, it was discovered that another Massachusetts crime lab worker, Sonja Farak, who was addicted to drugs, not only stole her supply from the evidence room but also tampered with samples and performed tests under the influence, thus tainting as many as 10,000 or more prosecutions.

Way to go Massachusetts Crime Lab, this goes to show crime labs need independent oversight built directly into the system. Otherwise these issues can never be resolved. Here’s a thing that would appear to point to a (another) big flaw in the system; prosecutors are apparently immune from their flawed actions. They’re slow to remedy wrongful convictions in these cases this Annie Dookhan tainted, and they don’t appear to be accountable. Many of the news articles remark on the fact that the prosecutors involved refuse to do anything about the thousands sitting in jail based on these faulty tests citing they followed procedure. I can’t think of a bigger flaw in a system wherein the ones in power refuse to correct the situation. The criminal justice system in this country is in dire straits. Thanks mainly to the war on drugs.

Over the past decade, crime lab scandals have plagued at least 20 states, as well as the FBI. We know that one of the unintended consequences of the war on drugs has been a rush to prosecute and convict and that crime labs have not operated with sufficient independence from prosecutors’ offices in many instances. Their mistakes ruin lives.

This issue will continue to escalate.

 

source: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/crime/2015/10/massachusetts_crime_lab_scandal_worsens_dookhan_and_farak.html

 

 

cocaineOnce again another story highlights the failure of drug field test kits used by law enforcement to test suspicious substances are prone to false positives. I wrote a about this issue a few months back when I said experiments show “dangerous” field drug test problems” used by law enforcement as just us unreliable as instant screens used for employment drug test are prone to false positives.

Before a routine inspection, University of Miami student Jonathan Harrington poured powdered sugar on his kitchen counter and coffee table and cut it into lines. With the confectionery powder in plain sight, next to a few aspirin pills, he thought it was obvious this was a bad joke.

In hindsight this may have been a bad joke, but with inaccurate field drug test kits being used by police this kid didn’t stand a chance.

He still thought he’d walk away, once police began using a cocaine field test on the powder — until police said it tested positive. After 20 minutes, it began turning blue, Harrington said.

He then spent the next two days in a county jail charged with cocaine possession.

Harrington later bonded out, according to the station. The state soon dropped the charges once the crime lab found that the “coke” was really just meant for legal sweet treats.

It’s even more troubling that they charged him with a crime based of inaccurate field drug test kits without confirming the results with the state lab.

source: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/powdered-sugar-prank-puts-university-of-miami-student-behind-bars/

Last Year ten Boston African American Police Officers who lost their jobs due to failing hair follicle drug test were rehired given back pay and are moving forward with with a lawsuit claim for more restitution from the state.

The fired cops claim that a hair follicle test used to detect drug use unfairly singles out black people and leads to false positives and the courts agreed with those officers and had their hair follicle drug test thrown own.

Hair follicle testing has long been criticized as racially unfair due to the higher levels of melanin found in the hair of African and Mediterranean people. Melanin, the protein that gives us our skin and hair color, also happens to bind to cocaine and other drug metabolites at a higher rate. source Hightimes.com

Even Congress has gotten on board about how hair follicle test is inaccurate and unfairly affect African Americans. American truck drivers are fighting a proposal in Congress that would subject them to drug testing via hair sample arguing hair testing programs can discriminate should be cause enough for concern to put the brakes on any federal hair testing proposal.

I really don’t have to say much on this on this one.

A number of federal employees with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration have failed drug tests over the past five years, only to receive short suspensions or other minor reprimands,newly released documents reveal.

So while Drug Enforcement Administration continues this pointless crackdown around the United States, some of the agency’s own agents have reportedly been busted for using illegal drugs with minimal repercussion. Yet, even in few rare cases where the agents were fired, the federal Merit System Protection Board often reinstated them back to their positions..

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/dea-drug-tests_560abff4e4b0af3706de0211