Recently, the state’s highest court ordered prosecutors to drop a significant portion of the more than 24,000 drug convictions to resolve a scandal – where thousands of people were wrongfully convicted on drug charges in Massachusetts – that has plagued the legal system since 2012.
For years, a state-employed chemist named Annie Dookhan has falsified drug lab tests to jail innocent people on the basis of fake science. Superiors systematically ignored several red flags on Dookhan. In 2012, she finally admitted to falsifying drug test results during her nine years at the Massachusetts state lab and was imprisoned in 2013. During her career, she marked tens of thousands of reports as ‘positive’ for illegal substances without testing them. She even added cocaine to sample results when no cocaine was present, The Free Thought Project reported. (RELATED: See more news about police state tyranny at PoliceState.news)
“Innocent persons were incarcerated, guilty persons have been released to further endanger the public, millions and millions of public dollars are being expended to deal with the chaos Ms. Dookhan created, and the integrity of the criminal justice system has been shaken to the core,” Judge Carol S. Ball stated at sentencing.
Since the shocking revelations in 2012, roughly 1,500 of the ‘Dookhan’ convictions were overturned. But over 24,000 people affected by the fake science lab results remained on parole or in prison, and many more were denied jobs and housing due to their criminal records.
Some were even exiled from the U.S. based on the falsified results – including Jose Aguasvivas who was stopped by customs officials at the airport in San Juan, P.R, in 2009. After spending nine months in detention centers, he was deported to the Dominican Republic. Years later, in 2012, he found out that his conviction was invalid and hoped to be reunited with his wife Honelia, who stayed behind in the U.S. Unfortunately, they still had a three-year legal battle ahead of them. (See more news of bizarre but true events at Twisted.news)
Meanwhile, Aguasvivas was forced to remain in his hometown as a deportee. He missed the birth of his grandchildren, couldn’t find a job since everyone in the town assumed he was a dangerous criminal, and his wife had to move out of the apartment and take credit cards to be able to visit her husband. In May 2016, after charges for possession of cocaine and heroin with intent to distribute were dismissed, he could finally return to his family in the U.S.
Despite Justice saying these cases involved “egregious government misconduct,” state prosecutors were fighting to keep the convictions in place. They sent cryptic, confusing letters to the defendants to inform them of their right to appeal their case individually. Most of these people, however, were poor and could not afford a lawyer to defend their case. And if they could afford to go to court, the case-by-case approach was moving at an unacceptable crawl.
Aguasvivas’ lawyer, Jennifer Klein of the Immigration Impact Unit, said that in Jose’s case it took three years, three attorneys, and an incredibly bright and aggressive wife to remove Jose’s conviction. This is an enormous amount of man-hours and resources that most people can’t muster, she added.
The confusion and injustice prompted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to get involved.
“It’s as though the state is almost addicted to prosecuting its way out of the problem of drug abuse,” said Mathew Segal, legal director of the ACLU of Massachusetts. “The addiction is so strong that the state won’t even walk away from convictions tainted by fraud. And they could walk away. Prosecutors could walk away from these cases right now.”
Nonetheless, it took the state’s high court four years to finally put an end to most of the injustice caused by Annie Dookhan. Thousands of people, however, already served their time in jail for a non-crime, but at least now they can move on with their life without a conviction on their name.
The problem is not only limited to Massachusetts. Similar scandals and fraudulent test results emerge in other states, including New Jersey and Texas. (RELATED: See more examples of corruption in science and medicine at Rigged.news)
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