Our legal director Matthew Segal appeared on NECN's The Take with Sue O'Connell to discuss two Massachusetts drug lab scandals surrounding chemists Annie Dookhan and Sonja Farak. Segal offered his commentary on what these scandals show about the state's failing criminal justice system and what should happen with the thousands of cases now thrown into question.

From the interview:

"All we need are for prosecutors to dismiss these cases ... or for the court to order that they be dismissed. And that's not hard because most of the folks who have been convicted in denial of due process have already served their time. ... Are we going to spend millions of tax-payer dollars to stick them with the collateral consequences of these wrongful convictions? ...

"What we need are people who are ready to say that we should treat the problem of drug use as a public health matter and to actually do that. And that means, in this instance, taking the money that might be spent on litigating these cases for years and years, and instead thinking about plowing it into other things like treatment. ...

"There are a couple ways that it's possible to avoid this kind of scandal. One is to have better systems. It shouldn't have taken five years and a lawsuit just to get a list of Annie Dookhan's cases, but it did. And that's not Dookhan's fault. That's the fault of the system in which she worked. And the second thing is we can [choose not to] fight our public health battles in the criminal justice system. We can choose not to have mandatory minimum sentencing. We can choose not to have laws that place so much importance on these drug labs. And that's the question about the war on drugs. ...

"Our preliminary analysis is that one out of every six drug convictions in Massachusetts for about a decade were Annie Dookhan cases. And that's before we even get to Farak. So what that means is you have this entire system of drug prosecutions that is beginning to look like a house of cards."

Watch the full interview: "Worst in the Nation" Drug Crime Labs

Stay informed

ACLU of Massachusetts is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National