Annie Dookhan’s Falsified Lab Data: Symptom of a Corrupted System
Friday, former Massachusetts chemist Annie Dookhan pleaded guilty to all 27 counts of falsifying nearly 40,000 criminal drug cases, effectively upending the Massachusetts criminal justice system. Dookhan admitted to filing false test results, mixing drug samples together, and lying under oath about her job qualifications. She claimed that she committed her crimes to boost her job performance and was sentenced on Friday to three to five years in prison, plus probation.Knowing a little something about laboratory procedures, I find it absolutely incredulous that she was fabricating data without anyone else in the lab knowing about it. It defies belief that her supervisors weren't seeing her output and questioning how one chemist was putting out so much data. Especially when all of the data she's sending only goes in one direction - towards finding the person being tested guilty.
Though many of the stories reporting Dookhan’s conviction focus on her alone, problems extend beyond one ambitious chemist. Dookhan’s “dry labbing” is just one part of a structure that incentivizes people working in the criminal justice system to get convictions—not truth—and put as many people in prison as possible without regard to their actual guilt.
I'm chagrined - but not surprised - to see a lack of prosecution in the chain of command. There's an investigation proceeding - but so far all they've done is fire someone who had claimed academic credentials they did not actually possess. That's a far cry from arresting accomplices - and that's exactly what Dookhan's supervisors were. Their job is to oversee the chemists in the laboratories to make sure that procedures are followed and such, and this case is exhibit A that they were not.
Finding out that Dookhan was flirting with a District Attorney? That other DAs knew they were getting falsified data that led to convictions? This entire story stinks from top to bottom, and Dookhan is the fall guy. That's complete and utter BS. There is no way on G-d's Green Earth that one single chemist could wreak all this havoc by themselves. No, this is a disturbing pattern of "win at all costs" that came unglued. Some 40,000 convictions have been overturned because of this scandal - I wonder how much that cost the taxpayers of Massachusetts?
And folks wonder why I left...
That is all.