Drug lab scandal: strain on courts, police

BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — About 34,000 criminal cases could be jeopardized as lawyers and police sort through drug samples allegedly tainted by former state lab chemist Annie Dookhan. Trial court officials testified at a legislative hearing Wednesday, warning lawmakers of the strain on resources that a large number of released former inmates could put on the criminal justice system.

“There’s no question it’s going to impact I think the speedy resolution of criminal cases because we’re going to be you know devoting resources at this particular issue,” said Chief Justice Robert Mulligan.

Mulligan said the trial courts will have to bring back retired clerks and judges to potentially retry criminal cases.

Two weeks ago it was announced that 195 inmates had been released from jail because of questions about their drug lab results.  Police are concerned for public safety.

“We have to take into account that dealers are hitting the street and continuing to sell drugs in communities that historically can affect us,” said Norwood Police Department Chief Bill Brooks.

Law enforcement told lawmakers there needs to be supervision for inmates who transition back into society – a place where they can go to get drug testing, counseling, and job training.

“Perhaps we move toward better management and a community supervision model that we can manage these people once t they’re  back out because we can’t possibly prepare them for re-entry because we never knew they would actually reenter at that time,” said Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.

Wednesday’s hearing was the last of three conducted by lawmakers as a result of the state lab scandal and a meningitis outbreak.  Lawmakers hope to file legislation next year to address public safety and public health concerns.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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