Legislative Oversight Hearing on Drug Lab Cases in Boston

In a legislative hearing on Wednesday at the Massachusetts State House, more information was provided on the status of the cases handled by a chemist at the state drug lab mired in scandal.

Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety, Mary Beth Heffernan, says 195 defendants have been released onto the streets because of the alleged mishandling of evidence at The Hinton lab.

“Preliminary release figures from the department of correction indicate that while 388 offenders have been identified and reviewed, only 195 have been released since November 10, 2012.  This 195 represents the total nymber of releases across the entire state from DOC facilities, with 79 of 195 having been released in the City of Boston.”

She didn’t say what kinds of crimes they had been convicted of, but pointed out that just because they have been freed, doesn’t mean they’ve been exonerated

“These individuals could be under alternative forms of supervision and are simply awaiting a status hearing on their individual cases.”
A handful of individuals have been rearrested, including career criminal and convicted rapist Marcus Pixley. Heffernan’s comments came at a Legislative hearing into the lapses of state oversight at the now shuttered Hinton lab. Heffernan also testified that the state forensic labs are overburdened.  And she added there’s a backlog of more than 10,000 cases – over a year’s worth of work.

According to the state’S attorney general, it could have been the pressure to keep up with the backlog of cases that led Annie Dookhan, the chemist at the center of the scandal, to falsify test results in the first place.