Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Statement on Seeking Further Oversight of the State’s Forensic Crime Labs

Today I released the following statement regarding recent reports that over 40,000 criminal cases may have been tainted due to the actions of alleged rogue drug lab chemist Annie Dookhan, and legislation the Senate Republican Caucus filed in January 2013 that would create a drug lab oversight board:

“The fallout of the egregious actions of forensic crime lab chemist Annie Dookhan directly correlates with the lack of oversight of the state’s forensic drug labs.  In January I filed legislation that would instill the necessary oversight, accountability, and transparency needed to ensure a system that demands integrity.

The bill requires:

• Quarterly reports from the undersecretary of public safety for forensic sciences that will include, but not be limited to, information regarding:

-The volume of forensic services at each facility;

-The volume of forensic services of each employee at such facilities;

-The costs and length of time from submission for testing or procedures and the return of results from such facilities;

-Compliance with accreditation standards of such facilities; and

-Facility employee records, qualifications, and incident reports.

• A minimum of one public oversight hearing per year for the board to receive testimony relative to the operations of state laboratories; 

• A system to receive complaints or tips about potential problems at a state laboratory via telephone and e-mail;

• Certification that all state laboratories are accredited in accordance with the other requirements of the bill; and

• The timely reporting of suspected or potential criminal wrongdoing to the Attorney General for investigation and prosecution.

The price and consequences of this failure of oversight prove that we need an immediate hearing of this bill and its passage as soon as possible.”

* Click here to read the text of the bill.