"The ripple effects of the potentially bogus testing are staggering for the criminal justice system and for the defendants. As authorities review the cases involved, they're also considering cases where defendants received stiffer sentences because of previous offenses. Or cases where defendants risked or lost jobs, public housing, custody of their children, or deportation.But, of course, it doesn't end there. Gina Luttrell at Townhall takes up the story:
"District attorneys have set up 'war rooms' in their offices just so staffers can research and match the cases in which Dookhan tested the drug evidence. They've hired retired judges to preside over to review each case and decide whether to release those incarcerated and/or hold new trials."
According to the Boston Globe, state police also fired a drug analyst from the same lab for allegedly falsely claiming in court that she possessed a Bachelor’s in chemistry.This is a short ways from a story I've covered before: civil forfeiture, in which police legally steal money from people under the argument that anyone carrying that much cash must be involved with drugs. That's not from a conviction by jury, but simply by seizing assets in a traffic stop or at an arrest. Nationally, several police departments and prosecutors' offices brag about cars and boats they got this way. But it's not just civil forfeiture on steroids and it's not just Massachusetts; only eight states have laws that bar the use of forfeiture proceeds for the benefit of the seizing police department, and of the other 42 states, 16 give at least 50 percent of seized assets to law enforcement, and in 26 states, it is 100 percent. By creating a system which rewards its police for seizing property and that funds state crime labs by convictions, is it really such a wonder that someone like Annie Dookhan would do what she did to ensure that her lab got as many convictions as possible?
The corruption does not seem to have stayed within the lab. When Dookhan was convicted, her emails revealed close ties to prosecutors in the state, including Norfolk Assistant District Attorney George Papachristos, who resigned when the emails were released revealing a “flirtatious” friendship. ... One email chain suggests that prosecutors in touch with Dookhan knew they were getting falsified results but pressed forward anyway
Research shows that the problem reaches far beyond a few states. According to a study published last year in Criminal Justice Ethics, the American system by and large perverts the incentives of the people working in it, such that everyone, from police, to prosecutors, and, apparently, even the lab scientists, are more motivated to get a guilty verdict rather than to ascertain real guilt or innocence.
To borrow Gina Luttrel's conclusion:
When Dookhan pleaded guilty, Attorney General Martha Coakley said, “Certainly one of the victims in this case, and the actions of Annie Dookhan, is the public trust.” Indeed, the public’s trust has been broken, but not by Dookhan herself. Rather, it has been soiled by the criminal “justice” system that aligns everything in such a way that the most rational thing for Dookhan to do her own self interest was to put innocent people behind bars.source)
What we have here is not a case of one woman attempting to meet her own wild ambitions. What Americans have is a system that is designed, whether intentionally or not, to get as many people thrown in jail as possible. It is a system that is broken, and it is a system that desperately needs to be revisited. And it’s not just Massachusetts’ problem.