NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

October 6, 2012

DA: 300-500 inmates could be freed

Faulty evidence could add up to 30,000 court cases, cost `in the multi-millions'

BOSTON — As the fallout from botched state drug lab work continues, Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley said yesterday there could be as many as “three, four, five hundred people” released from jail over potentially faulty evidence.

“You may have got the biggest break in your life, but we’re not going to let this city turn into a drug haven now that you’re back,” Conley told reporters, describing how law enforcement would keep a watch on those released. “That’s not going to happen. And we’re very concerned that there will be violence, but that’s a bridge that we’ll have to cross.”

Asked whether the state would do anything to bolster public safety because of the number of people released, Gov. Deval Patrick pointed out that “we’re talking about people who shouldn’t have been convicted” and said the state would provide resources as needed.

“In terms of people who have other charges or other records, there’s process for that, and there’s a system for that, and there’s public safety officials who have responsibility for that,” Patrick said. “To the extent they need additional resources, I assume we’ll be gathering that as we’re developing the proposal for a supplemental budget.”

Conley told reporters, “We undoubtedly will be in the position to assent to the release of some pretty dangerous people into Boston.”

Yesterday, the Boston Municipal Court set up the state’s first special court to handle potentially tainted drug evidence, and Conley said it was a frustrating exercise as no action was taken on most of the cases because the evidence was not apparently handled by “rogue chemist” Annie Dookhan.

“This list here, no one can really make any sense over how it was produced in this court,” Conley said, during a break in court proceedings. “The leadership in this court should be embarrassed by what’s going on today. These cases aren’t even related to Annie Dookhan in most instances.”

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