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.
The issues plaguing state crime labs like Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, continue to occur and people are being to acknowledge the system is overdue for sweeping reform. Now we can add New Jersey to the hall of shame.
A lab technician for the State Police allegedly faked results in a drug case, and has drawn into question 7,827 criminal cases on which he worked, according to state officials.
Kamalkant Shah worked as a laboratory technician for the State Police laboratory in Little Falls and was found to have “dry labbed” suspected marijuana, according to a Feb. 29 memo to Public Defender Joseph Krakora from Deputy Public Defender Judy Fallon. Shah’s essentially accused of making up data.
The prosecutor’s office’s plan, Fallon said, “is to submit for retesting specimens from open cases. The larger, and unanswered, question is how this impacts already resolved cases, especially those where the specimens may have been destroyed.”
Appears some people have noticed the CDC‘s recommendation for urine drug testing in pain management have nothing to with helping with patient care and could be a profit driven motive to drug testing patients in pain, and physicians‘ fears and inability to effectively treat pain.
The annual cost of drug testing in pain management is estimated at $2 billion per year. Unfortunately, that may be a gross underestimate since no study has ever evaluated the indirect costs of patient harm or harming the therapeutic patient-provider relationship—likely the most important aspect of pain management. A November, 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal reported that some physicians are making more money from drug testing patients than treating them.
Spectrum Labs release the following statement about quick fix urine and uric acid,
Uric Acid and the Amateurs
If you are buying a synthetic urine product with uric acid, you are buying it from the amateurs. Would you buy a synthetic product with blood in it? Of course not. Blood is not supposed to be in urine and only raises more red flags during your test. Uric acid is the same way. There is absolutely no reason for uric acid to be in synthetic urine for a pre-employment test. It is a sure sign of a shoddy product. Do not embarrass yourself by using inferior products.
Knowledge Is Key!
Within the industry there has been confusion about Uric Acid. You can trust Spectrum Labs, based on our experience as the innovator of synthetic urine and the millions of units sold. Furthermore, as the recognized leader in the industry, Spectrum has received multiple patents from the United States Patent and Trademark offices to protect our products and you the customer. Spectrum has engineered Quick Fix and Quick Fix Plus with the necessary components such as; UREA, creatinine, biocide and kept our products nitrite and uric acid free.
There is NO scientific reason for companies to add uric acid to their products. This is a marketing ploy and if you choose a product with uric acid in it you are gambling with your future. DON’T LET YOUR JOB GO UP IN SMOKE! Choose the trusted brand leader that has been around for over 25 years. There is a reason Spectrum has sold more synthetic products than all of our competition combined.
Spectrum Labs is right to say their is no scientific reason for uric acid to be added to synthetic urine, it’s a marketing ploy. Urea is what they are testing for and if you don’t have urea your going to have invalid results.
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.
Once 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.
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..
I’m going to have to say some companies are just plain greedy and use misleading marketing tactics to sell products to people who do not need them. I stumbled upon one company selling a 5 Day Blood Program that they claim can, “Permanently Cleanses! 100% Undetectable, Removes All Toxins from your blood.”. They also sell a four, three, and two day blood detox kit based on the users toxin usage. Here’s the truth people, if you stop taking any type of toxin your body with naturally detox your blood in 48 hours or up to five days depending on usage level of any toxins without the aid of any detoxification program. All these people are selling you is snake oil.
Their two and three days detoxification products are misleading too, if you read the fine print of their product instructions, you find this little note,
Wait at least 24 hours after completing the kit before testing yourself. For most people it takes anywhere from one to three days after finishing the supplement portion of the program before testing clean.
Add those extra three days onto their two and three days programs and your body had already naturally detoxified. Save yourself the money and don’t buy any blood detox products, their is no scientific evidence that any blood detox products work and the U S Food and Drug Administration has not approved any blood detox pills. I also highly doubt the companies selling theses products have financed their own research to back up their claims either, most companies selling these products will feed you the line it take five days to work since they know your body with naturally cleanse its self in that period.