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State health chief quits over drug-testing scandal

State Public Health Commissioner Jon Auerbach today announced his resignation over the burgeoning crisis at the former DPH labs in Jamaica Plain, in which thousands of evidence samples in criminal cases were potentially done incorrectly.

It is clear that there was insufficient quality monitoring, reporting and investigating on the part of supervisors and managers surrounding the former Department of Public Health drug lab in Jamaica Plain – and ultimately, as Commissioner, the buck stops with me.

What happened at the drug lab was unacceptable and the impact on people across the state may be devastating, particularly for some within the criminal justice system. We owe it to ourselves and the public to make sure we understand exactly how and why this happened. I will continue to work with investigators to make sure we find answers and accept responsibility.

Before being tapped by Gov. Patrick for the job six years ago, Auerbach served in a similar role for the Boston Public Health Commission.

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Comments

Now this? I guess Auerbach just can't manage folks who screw around with drugs.

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Under the current administration Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been intolerant of critical comment, feedback, complaint. The organizational culture needs to change and open up to ideas, feedback, suggestions. That's how early detection of problems can happen.

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He did the right thing. It was only a matter of time.

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Void the convictions of, and release, anyone now in jail for crimes where evidence from this lab was introduced at trial.

Don't retry any of these cases.

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For any of the straight possession cases, fine. Even if you add those convicted with intent to distribute, I'm probably still ok with that up to a certain level.

But how many violent criminals are amongst the 35,000 and counting cases that this stupid fucking %$##& mishandled/tampered with/otherwise corrupted? Do we even want to hazard a guess? How many people will be further victimized by the release of thousands of violent criminals?

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If they also committed crimes of violence, the presence or absence of drugs is not relevant evidence for those crimes. So yeah, if someone was convicted of both assault and drug dealing, void the drug conviction but let the assault stand.

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