Massachusetts Judge orders state prisons to discontinue using well-respected reliability issues in drug field tests. This is after the lawyers and incarcerated individuals claimed they were wrongly accused of smuggling illegal mail for legitimate purposes.
In July, several Massachusetts inmates and attorneys, represented by Justice Catalyst Law and the law firm BraunHagey & Borden, A class action lawsuit was filedIt is claimed that NARK II tests are used by the State Department of Corrections to determine synthetic cannabinoids. However, these test have an error rate that’s so high it could be akin “witchcraft”, phrenology or picking a number out of a hat.”
The Tuesday release was made by Brian Davis of the Suffolk Superior Court. Preliminary injunctionThe DOC should not be able to punish inmates based only on unreported NARK II field results. Davis determined that the field tests were not reliable and could be used to make a “slightly better decision than flipping a coin.” Davis ruled that the DOC practice of keeping inmates in solitary confinement while restricting their access to lawyers prior to field testing were conducted by outside labs, “constitutes an arbitrary interference with Plaintiffs right to counsel as well as their due process rights.”
As It is a good reason reportedThis year’s drug field tests were made by multiple companies. These kits have been used in prisons across the country by law enforcement agencies and the police, despite the hundreds of documented wrongful arrests. The manufacturers also clearly instructed that crime labs should verify the results. These tests are used by the federal Bureau of Prisons to use solitary confinement to lock in prisoners and remove visitation rights and good behaviour credits. The test is never sent to outside laboratories for verification.
Instant color reactions are used by the test kit to detect certain chemicals found in illicit drugs. But those same compounds may also be present in numerous licit substances. Atlanta’s woman recently was Nearly six months imprisonmentAfter dumping sand in a stress ball, she was found to have tested positive for cocaine. Georgia’s college football quarterback was arrested for bird droppings on his car last year. PositiveFor cocaine
This lawsuit was filed in response to claims made by over a dozen Massachusetts lawyers. They claimed they had been falsely chargedThey send drugs to their clients in prison. The easiest way to get synthetic cannabinoids into prisons by lacing papers with them is through mail donation. These clients were put into solitary confinement to be able to get legal mail.
Lisa NewmanPolk, a criminal defense attorney, is also a plaintiff in that lawsuit. TelledWBUR reports that one client was transferred to a restricted housing unit. He lost his job and could not begin an education program. The privileged legal mail she sent him had been “positive for K2”. These were then invalidated by the crime lab.
The judge analyzed the mostly unchallenged statements in the lawsuit and concluded that plaintiffs “have made substantial evidence to support the claim that NARK Il Test returns extremely high false positive rates even when properly performed.”
The lawsuit’s exhibits show that at most 122 of the items the DOC tested positive for synthetic cannabisoids between July 2019 and February 2021. These results were confirmed by lab testing. The results of a smaller number of field tests that were positive between August 2019, 2020 and July 2019, showed that only 62% of those results were correct.
Davis’s order stated that “the overwhelming evidence in front of this Court is the NARK II Test is an extremely unreliable method to determine whether any particular mail item contains illicit synthetic cannabinoids.” The NARK Il Test has false positive results about 38% of the times, which is marginally more than a coin flip and far worse than what DOC considers acceptable.
In a statement, BraunHagey & Borden attorney Ellen Leonida says the judge’s order “vindicates the rights of incarcerated people in Massachusetts to communicate with their attorneys without the threat of arbitrary punishment.”
Leonida continued, “Faced by overwhelming evidence of the unreliability of this test, the court ordered that the DOC do the right thing from the start: Stop arbitrarily punishing those who simply tried to receive mail from lawyers.”
These tests are causing problems in at least one state prison. The New York Department of Corrections and Community Services stopped using them last summer. Use of NARK II testing kits to detect contraband.
These tests are also used in federal prisons, but the results are not sent outside to verify and the inmates are not allowed to seek independent verification.
Sirchie, which manufactures NARK II test kits, asserts that all problems result from the DOC’s misuse of its products. This is a motion to dismissSirchie noted the obvious warnings in a similar federal suit against it. Site:
ALL TEST RESULTS SHOULD BE CONFIRMED BY A APPROVED Analytical Laboratory! This test is presumptive. NARK® only tests for the possible presence of certain chemical compounds. Such compounds may cause reaction in legal or illegal products.