Netflix Takes You Inside the Massive Drug Scandal That Freed 35,000 People


    NetflixIn separate rulings in 2017 and 2018, Massachusetts dismissed more than 35,000 criminal convictions on the basis of misconduct perpetrated by two drug lab technicians as well as, in one of those cases, the district attorney’s office’s willful suppression of vital evidence. How to Fix a Drug Scandal treats this as a historic triumph for justice, and in terms of combating and righting systemic wrongs, it was. And yet the more one sits through Netflix’s four-part docuseries, the more one also wonders if this was a qualified victory at best.Directed by Erin Lee Carr (I Love You, Now Die), and executive-produced by Alex Gibney, the streaming service’s latest true crime offering (premiering April 1) concerns Sonja Farak and Annie Dookhan, technicians at, respectively, the state-run Amherst lab and Boston’s Hinton State Laboratory. A star academic who’d also been the first female in Rhode Island to ever play high school football, Farak handled narcotics for most cases in Massachusetts’ western half. Plagued by depression, she soon began dipping into her office’s stash, first ingesting small doses of liquid methamphetamine, and then gravitating to cocaine and eventually crack—which she cooked, herself, in the lab. Perpetually using the drugs she had already tested, she was busted when colleagues and cops found missing samples (and paraphernalia) at her workstation.Whereas Farak’s transgressions stemmed from her rampant addiction, Dookhan’s wrongdoing was the byproduct of unchecked ego. Renowned for being four times as efficient as her fellow chemists, Dookhan was a veritable star at her lab, and with prosecutors, with whom she was unreasonably chummy. As notable discrepancies began piling up, however, it became clear that Dookhan’s rapid turnaround time with testing assignments was due to the fact that she wasn’t actually doing them; rather, she was fudging data on the vast majority of her cases, all in order to bolster her reputation. Such lying was part of a pattern of deceit on Dookhan’s part (she also falsely claimed she’d received a night school degree from Harvard). And like Farak’s deeds, her deception called into question the thousands of convictions that had been predicated on her results, and her concurrent court testimony about them.Read more at The Daily Beast.


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