40,000 Falsely Accused with Drug Charges after State Lab Found Falsifying Test Results*
By Christina Sarich
Annie Dookhan, the former chemist at Hinton State Laboratory said she “just wanted to get drug users off the streets,” but as she stood before a Massachusetts court recently for falsifying forensic records tied to alleged drug offenders, she was the one receiving sobering news.
During her nine-year career, Dookhan was less interested in finding out who was actually a drug offender, than just putting people in jail. She has been charged with tainting the drug convictions of tens of thousands of people, many of whom were poor and coerced into plea deals for possession, rather than face longer jail sentences and steeper fines. Her misguided, rogue actions have affected possibly 24,000 – 40,000 people in the state of Massachusetts.
Dookhan said that she found drugs in the urine and blood of thousands of people’s samples that she never even set eyes on. While this is an implausible situation, it highlights the failed drug war and its ability to grotesquely affect so many innocent people simply due to the actions of a select few, bent on upholding the DEA’s failed “war against drugs” policy.
Even President Nixon admitted that the drug war was targeted at Blacks, and Hippies (the anti-war crowd) – with a specific aim at silencing the poor, and taking away consciousness-raising drugs from the counter-culture. And later, evidence arose that the CIA was promoting the “psychedelic 60s” by introducing LSD to psychiatrists and other influencers of society.
Due to Annie Dookhan’s actions, tens of thousands of people have wrongly been dragged through our judiciary system and prisons. They should be exonerated, and freed. Boston defense attorney David Meier hopes this will be the case. Since the scandal broke a year ago, he found 2,769 more people than he had previously estimated, bringing to 40,323 the total number of people potentially affected by Dookhan’s alleged mishandling of drug evidence.
“My hope is that as a result of these efforts, each and every individual who was potentially affected . . . will have an opportunity to have his or her case reviewed by prosecutors, defence attorneys, and judges and that the system will have the opportunity to get it right,” Meier said.
This begs the question though – what were Dookhan’s superiors at the now-closed state Department of Public Health lab where she worked while she was forging so many lab results? Were they ignorant of her actions, or were they purposefully ignoring her vigilante chemistry?