The next time someone is sentenced to prison for drug possession, and you’re tempted to think “they got what they deserved”, I urge you to remember Annie Dookhan. Because of her forged test results, more than 21,500 people were convicted of drug crimes. Those convictions have now been overturned en masse (sadly, it took four years for this to happen). Chances are, many of those people actually were in possession of illegal drugs, but the point here is We Just Don’t Know. And this is just one chemist in the state of Massachusetts.
Dookhan has already served two-and-a-half years for her crime and has since been released. It is impossible to calculate how many years innocent people languished in prison due to her fraud. It is impossible to calculate how many job opportunities disappeared due to felony records, how many families lost income and support, how many children lost a father or mother to the bowels of the “justice” system. Far more than 21,500 people were affected, once you add their parents, their spouses, and their children.
It is also worth considering that rehab is far less expensive than prison — even for people who actually turned out to be guilty of nonviolent drug crimes, and that education/training programs can reduce recidivism by orders of magnitude, even for violent offenders.
(Note: I cross-posted this to Facebook.)