Massachusetts: Nearly 200 released as result of drug lab scandal

BOSTON (AP) – Nearly 200 people have been released from prison and their cases put on hold as a result of a Massachusetts state drug testing lab scandal.

Public Safety Secretary Mary Beth Heffernan told lawmakers at a public hearing Wednesday that while investigators are looking at about 34,000 cases overall, 195 individuals have been released, 79 in Boston.

Heffernan said their release doesn’t mean they have been exonerated. She didn’t say what kinds of crimes they had been convicted of, but said they could be under alternative forms of supervision as they await future court hearings to resolve their cases.

Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby said the lack of national accreditation at the lab was one factor that contributed to its troubles.

Bigby said the fact that chemist Annie Dookhan, accused of faking lab tests, performed so many more tests than other lab workers should have been a red flag.

Heffernan said $3.4 million is needed to close a state backlog of 10,300 cases that need drug testing.

(By STEVE LeBLANC, Associated Press)

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