New estimates of the cost to clean up the State Drug Lab scandal came into focus this week. And the numbers are frightening for taxpayers.
Veteran courts journalist John Ellement of the Globe uncovered that $35 million has already been asked for by various arms of government scrambling to deal with the fallout.
"Rogue chemist" Annie Dookhan at the State Drug Lab in JP was allowed, over the course of nine years, to mishandle 34,000 or more samples in drug cases. Convicted drug dealers are already going back on the streets as a result.
This week Ellement reported that the state judiciary needs $8.7 million to handle as many as 136,000 criminal cases that may have been corrupted. That's every single case that passed through the State Drug Lab on South Street for nine years. See the Globe's story for more details.
The costs aren't just financial. Legal defense and civil liberties groups argued this week that the state's top law enforcement officer has no credibility to continue the criminal case against Dookhan. Several groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, called on Attorney General Martha Coakley to turn over her investigation to an independent third party. The Globe's editorial page has added its voice to those seeking an outside investigator.
Here are some other Drug Lab stories from the week:
- A former Essex County prosecutor argued in the Herald that the cost of the scandal will be well above the $50 million predicted in a Globe article.
- Essex County prosecutors say Dookhan may have tainted 8,451 samples related to drug cases in their area, according to the Gloucester Times.
- In Bristol County, a special unit has been named to deal with the mess, reports Attleboro-Seekonk Patch.