“When a crime lab screws up, whose responsibility is it to clean up the mess?”

Falsified evidence. Technicians high on drugs (they are in a drug lab after all) while doing the testing. What could go wrong. Massachusetts crime lab scandal worsens: Dookhan and Farak. Apparently, no one is responsible for seeing that Justice is done. The Criminal Justice System is a system more interested in protecting itself than it is interested in justice.

Perhaps the most dramatic example of a massive scandal that cannot seem to be reversed involves Annie Dookhan, a chemist who worked at a Massachusetts state lab drug analysis unit. 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.

By the close of 2014, despite the fact that there were between 20,000-40,000 so-called “Dookhan defendants” (depending on whether you accept the state’s numbers or the American Civil Liberty Union’s), fewer than 1,200 had filed for postconviction relief.

The most dramatic example? Perhaps. Not the only example. It is relatively short as these things go. Take a look for yourself.

How many lives have been ruined in the name of the War on (Some) Drugs@trade? How many more need to be ruined? What if you were one of those people who had evidence falsified to get another “win” in the prosecutor’s column?

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