Tech Insiders has a great short video outlining a lot of the issues with drug testing and false positives I’ve written about over the last few years. The video ended by saying they can do a thorough exam to rule out false positives, but left out the biggest issues, most places don’t do a thorough exam.
A one-year pilot program in Michigan that will allow specifically trained officers to give roadside saliva tests to drivers suspected of being under the influence of such drugs as marijuana, cocaine and heroin remains on hold.
The legislation took effect in Michigan in September 2016, but Shanon Banner, a spokeswoman for the Michigan State Police, said it still hadn’t been determined in which five counties the pilot program will take place. Previously, the Michigan State Police had said it planned to have the program in place by sometime in the fall of 2016.
Michigan puts their pilot program on hold with no comment, maybe it’s possible someone realized with a little online research those field saliva kits are prone to false positives and highly unreliable. Good to know someone realize they could be arresting incident people off a saliva field test kit with a high rate false positive and could ruin their lives while they wait months for the state lab to perform LC/MS/MS confirmation to confirm if the results.
In 2008, professional chess grandmaster Vassily Ivanchuk lost a game, then was immediately asked to provide a urine sample for a drug test. Ivanchuk flipped out — he kicked a concrete pillar and pounded a cafeteria countertop — insulted that he would be asked to do something so demeaning after his loss. His fans and other players rallied to support him, the argument being that doping couldn’t help a chess player. Turns out those dopes were wrong.
I can honestly say I never expected the International chess tournaments players to fall under the World Anti-Doping Agency rules
What’s scary is Las Vegas has been using these unreliable field drug test kits for 30 years, and the results the field test results are never confirmed in a crime lab, all while people were forced into guilty pleas based on bad evidence. What should be almost criminal is Police Department’s crime lab had produced a study in 2014 detailing the vulnerabilities of the tests and the prosecutors office continued for two years to to convict people only on these field test kits results, all while knowing that the tests were prone to error. Help in that headline should be used loosely, the district attorney’s office is trying to protect themselves.
The Clark County district attorney’s office established a conviction review unit in October. In what appears to be one of its first efforts, the unit has been seeking information about problematic convictions resulting from one of the office’s routine practices: accepting guilty pleas in drug cases that rely largely on the results of field tests done by police that can be unreliable.
Police place suspicious material into a pouch of chemicals that are supposed to change color to indicate the possible presence of illegal drugs. The $2 tests are used by police departments nationwide, and over nearly 30 years in Clark County they have helped produce tens of thousands of drug convictions for the possession or sale of cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana. In the vast majority of those cases, the field test results are never confirmed in a formal crime lab.
Trump during a campaign rally on Saturday in New Hampshire, just called for drug tests ahead of the third presidential debate.
“I think she’s actually getting pumped up, you want to know the truth. She’s getting pumped up you understand. In fact, we’re gonna be talking about that in a few minutes. She’s getting pumped up for Wednesday night.”
“We’re like athletes right. Athletes, they make them take a drug test, right. I think we should take a drug test prior to the debate. Why don’t we do that? We should take a drug test, prior, because I don’t know what’s going on with her, but at the beginning of her last debate, she was all pumped up at the beginning, and at the end it was like, ‘Oh, take me down,’ ” Trump said, imitating Clinton.
“She could barely reach her car, so I think we should take a drug test'”
Trump said he was willing to take drug test. For the good of the American people I volunteer to observe the samples being given and to test their urine samples too. Drop those pants Trump and Clinton and piss in a cup just like the rest of the poor Americans.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 15, 2016
Last year I wrote about 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 The Massachusetts Appeals Court has given another legal victory to six black Boston police officers who said they were fired over unreliable hair drug testing testing method is unreliable and positive tests are more due to the higher levels of melanin found in the hair of African and Mediterranean people
The court said the officers must be reinstated with back pay and benefits. The appeals court ruling upheld decisions by the state’s Civil Service Commission and Superior Court.
From Orlando, Florida, yet another case of drug tests kits that produce false positives. Daniel Rushing was arrested, handcuffed and charged with methamphetamine possession over a tiny flake of donut glaze on the floor of his car.
Not since a pair of Orlando police officers pulled him over, spotted four tiny flakes of glaze on his floorboard and arrested him, saying they were pieces of crystal methamphetamine.
The officers did two roadside drug tests and both came back positive for the illegal substance, according to his arrest report.
He was handcuffed, arrested, taken to the county jail and strip searched, he said.
A state crime lab, however, did another test several weeks later and cleared him.
New Florida Department of Law Enforcement data shows that 21 percent of the time, drug evidence that was listed by local authorities as methamphetamine turned out to be something else.
These cheap $2.00 field drug tests kits that produce false positives as much as 10% of the time are really starting to get costly for tax payers.
Court documents show the Pennsylvania State Police have paid $195,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a New York man who spent 29 days behind bars after troopers mistook homemade soap for cocaine.
Alexander Bernstein’s attorney, Joshua Karoly, tells The Morning Call ( http://bit.ly/2aeoG2H ) his client also has settled claims against Safariland LLC, the company that produced the allegedly faulty drug test that troopers used during a November 2013 traffic stop. Details of that settlement weren’t available.
State police and Safariland didn’t return messages seeking comment Thursday.
Bernstein was a passenger in a Mercedes-Benz police pulled over for speeding near Allentown. Troopers smelled marijuana, searched the car and found packages the driver said was homemade soap, but tested as cocaine. Lab tests later showed it was soap.
ProPublica recently posted an article that brings up a disturbing aspect fact I’ve already talked about, the reliability of those field drug testing kits law enforcement are using..
The story, entitled “Busted,” tells the horrifying story of a Louisiana woman named Amy Albritton who was convicted of drug possession in Houston, Texas in 2010 on the basis of an obsolete $2 field test (today’s field tests are virtually identical to ones used forty years ago), administered by the police officer on the scene. The officer had found a small crumb of a substance he had decided was crack cocaine – and the field test apparently “proved” it.
Ms. Albritton was arrested, processed, and jailed. Despite her insistence that she was innocent, the district attorney pressured her into accepting a plea bargain. She served three weeks of a six-week sentence in the county jail. By the time she had been released, she had lost her job, her home – and had a felony record that would follow her for the rest of her life, preventing her from getting a decent job and another home.
Meanwhile, the sample found in her car that had been the basis of Ms. Albritton’s conviction had not been subjected to any additional testing to confirm the results. Furthermore, the Harris County crime lab was poorly run in a slapdash manner; testing was rife with errors, and evidence was handled carelessly and even subject to tampering and falsification. Since the 1990s, the Harris County crime lab has been notorious for losing evidence, employing incompetent technicians, and worse. And this plague of incompetence is not limited to Texas, by the way; in 2013, the Boston Globe reported that a lab technician at a Massachusetts drug lab was fabricating results altogether.
Sadly as usual no one will be held accountable for this. Research going back five years and more has shows that these field drug tests kits produce false positives as much as 10% of the time. I can only imagine the thousands innocent people who sit in jails and prisons wrongly convicted based on this supposedly highly unreliable test kits.
Annie Dookhan, the former state chemist who created a multi million-dollar crisis in the criminal justice system that continues today, has been granted parole from her prison sentence.
Sadly the highlights of the issues she caused can be summed up by this statement,
In the years between 2003-2012, Dookhan was involved in tens of thousands of cases. In some cases, she did not perform drug tests but fabricated results. In others, she tampered with drug samples so they would test positive for illegal drugs when there were no illegal substances at all. And sometimes she would change the weight of tested drugs so that they would trigger more serious penalties.
Her abuse of trust will continue to plague the system too,
But what strikes me most is that Dookhan – who engaged in serious and pervasive misconduct with wide and far-reaching costs – received and served a prison sentence far less severe than many of her victims. Some defendants suffered additional costs far more difficult to quantify: lost livelihoods, broken relationships from time in prison, children removed from their custody, and the trauma from incarceration. And then there are the millions of taxpayer dollars that will ultimately be spent trying to clean up Dookhan’s mess.