Pub­lic safety put at risk

Boston Herald - - HERALD OPINION -

Once more, shoddy state em­ploy­ees dam­age the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem and so­ci­ety at large.

The Supreme Ju­di­cial Court or­dered thou­sands of drug con­vic­tions that hinged on drug tests at a state lab to be dis­missed due to mis­con­duct by one of the lab’s chemists and two for­mer as­sis­tant at­tor­neys gen­eral.

The rul­ing af­fects all con­vic­tions that were based on ev­i­dence tested at the Amherst lab from Jan. 1, 2009, to Jan. 18, 2013, when for­mer state chemist Sonja Farak was ar­rested, in ad­di­tion to all metham­phetamine con­vic­tions based on drugs that were tested dur­ing her nine-year ten­ure there.

Jus­tice Frank M. Gaziano, writ­ing for the unan­i­mous court, said that Farak tam­pered with drug ev­i­dence to sat­isfy her ad­dic­tion, and two for­mer as­sis­tant at­tor­neys gen­eral failed to re­veal what they learned about her.

Be­cause of crim­i­nal­ity and gross malfea­sance, more bad ac­tors will be dumped back onto the streets — at least 8,000. The drug lab scan­dal in­volv­ing chemist An­nie Dookhan re­sulted in 20,000 dropped con­vic­tions.

We need strong over­sight, thor­ough vet­ting and harsher sen­tenc­ing for peo­ple like Farak and Dookhan. Farak was sen­tenced to just 18 months in jail. The state needs to get bet­ter on this, now.

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