Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Crime lab faked results in 4 cases, probe finds

The question I'm wondering is if the crime lab also does the testing for the probation department?  Are there people in prison for testing positive for controlled substances based on this crime lab?  Even if it isn't, something of note:  I have a friend and fellow NORML member who was a guest on our local show "Drugs, Crime and Politics," who was on probation for possession of cocaine - which was in his car and he said was not his.  He failed his drug test for marijuana and spent about 9 months in State Jail in Texas.  Texas now has State Jails that are supposed to be for first time and non-violent offenders and State Prison that are for the "real bad guys". 
Going to jail did not help his life in any way.  He had been working steadily, making decent money as an independant contractor, doing handyman type work.  When he went to jail he lost his house he was paying a mortgage on, his wife divorced him and now that it is out he is finding it harder to get work.  He has to tell any prospective employer that he is on parole, because his parole officer is going to check up on him and tell his employer that he is a parolee.  Not only that he gets in trouble if he doesn't tell his employer because the parole officer considers that not being honest and could be a reason to revoke his parole.
Currently he is working as a courier.  This puts him at great risk because he doesn't know what is in the packages that he picks up and delivers and doesn't know who has been handling them.  He recently tested positive for cocaine, although he doesn't use cocaine (he says), but how can they drug test someone for something that anyone can come in contact with without knowing.  I have read that the average $20 bill will also test positive for cocaine. How can we send people to jail on the basis of drug tests when the substance is so common and easy to come in contact with without our knowledge?
Crime lab faked results in 4 cases, probe finds

The allegations — the first aimed at HPD's drug unit — could be the harshest yet

Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

Houston Police Department crime lab analysts fabricated findings in at least four drug cases, an independent investigator reported Tuesday, including one in which a scientist performed no tests before issuing conclusions that supported a police officer's suspicions.

The allegations of so-called "drylabbing" — concocting results without conducting analyses — may be among the most serious leveled thus far in the more than two years since the crime lab came under scrutiny.

The report, released Tuesday, also casts doubt, for the first time, on the laboratory's largest division, controlled substances, which tests substances suspected of being drugs and performs about 75 percent of HPD's forensics work. The latest problems bring to five the number of crime lab disciplines where errors have been exposed — including DNA, toxicology, ballistics and the blood-typing science of serology.


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