On Monday, we joined with a coalition of 40 Massachusetts-based community, religious, advocacy, and civil rights organizations to demand that prosecutors immediately dismiss all drug convictions tainted by the Hinton and Amherst Drug Lab scandals. Everyone is entitled to a fair trial and prosecutors must not get away with convicting anyone of a crime with tainted evidence.
The letter called on prosecutors to expeditiously repair the harm done to the tens of thousands of people with tainted convictions who continue to suffer collateral consequences including trauma, loss of public housing and benefits, deportation, and criminal records. The coalition also asks prosecutors to support SD500 and HD1794, proposed state legislation to end mandatory minimum drug sentencing.
Captain James joined demonstrators on Monday in front of Boston Municipal Court to voice support for these demands and stand in solidarity with the over 40,000 people impacted by the drug lab crises.
A huge thanks to the No Drug Arrests Collective, for organizing this letter and event, for all of the organizations who signed the letter and for everyone who attended the protest. Expect more events until the tens of thousands of people with tainted convictions are made whole.
The full letter is below:
February 27, 2017
We the undersigned constituent community, religious, advocacy, and civil rights organizations urge
you to swiftly dismiss with prejudice all drug convictions tainted by the Hinton Drug Lab scandal.
Justice delayed is justice denied.
The recent Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Bridgeman v District Attorneys gives your offices until April
18, 2017 to decide which of these tainted cases you will dismiss with prejudice. We are aware that
your offices have the power and discretion to dismiss all the tainted convictions outright.
Dismissing every tainted conviction with prejudice is the only just, prudent, and responsible course
Between 2012 and 2016, chemist Annie Dookhan was investigated, arrested, prosecuted, and
convicted, and served over two years in state prison. During that time, your offices obstructed
attempts to bring a comprehensive remedy to the crisis. In the course of your offices’ costly legal
battle to protect these tainted convictions, your attorneys even went so far as to argue that police
and prosecutors bore the brunt of the impact of the scandal.
Meanwhile, the true victims of the Hinton Drug Lab scandal continue to suffer the collateral
consequences of their tainted convictions—including trauma from incarceration, loss of public
housing and benefits, immigration consequences, criminal records, and enhanced sentencing on any
Ms. Dookhan is the only person who has been held accountable for what is evidently systemic
corruption and misconduct. Your offices have a final opportunity to be accountable for your role in
the scandal and blocking the administration of justice. The bare minimum your offices can do is
dismiss with prejudice all of the tainted convictions. True justice would see your offices commit
resources and political influence to assist Hinton Drug Lab crisis victims to (1) expunge their
records; (2) reverse deportation proceedings; (3) restore public benefits; and (4) push your counties
to construct legislative remedies in order to provide remuneration. Additionally, to prevent further
abuse of power, we ask that your offices support the repeal of mandatory minimums this legislative
session by endorsing SD500 and HD1794.
It is a cliché in Massachusetts that we can’t arrest or prosecute our way out of the crisis of drug
addiction. Nonetheless, your offices not only continue to prosecute new drug offenses but have
wasted precious public resources “protecting” tainted convictions. The majority of the tainted
Hinton Lab convictions were for simple possession, and over 90% were prosecuted in District
Court. Our communities would have been better served had your offices pursued dismissal,
diversion, and alternative sentences in the first place.
The scandal continues to impact people to this day because of your refusal to do the right thing.
Protecting convictions instead of your constituents serves no public good and in fact endangers
individuals, families, and communities. There is widespread public support for dismissing with
prejudice all the cases. As the Amherst Lab scandal looms, such a remedy should serve as a model
for how these additional tainted cases should be handled by your offices.
Massachusetts must move beyond rhetoric and begin to treat drug addiction as a public health issue.
Dismissing the tainted convictions is an essential step in the right direction.
American Friends Service Committee
Arlington Street Church – Social Action
Black and Pink
Boston Coalition for Police Accountability
Boston Liberation Health Group
Boston Police Camera Action Team
Brazilian Women’s Group
Center for Church and Prison
Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race
and Justice at Harvard Law School
The City School
Coalition for Effective Public Safety
Concerned Elders Re-entry Program, Inc
Criminal Justice Policy Coalition
Criminal Justice Task Force of Congregation
Digital Fourth / Restore The 4th – Boston
EMIT – End Mass Incarceration Together
Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organizing for
Families for Justice as Healing
Jewish Voices for Peace, Boston Chapter
Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP)
The Law Offices of Howard Friedman, P.C.
Massachusetts Bail Fund
Massachusetts Pirate Party
National Council of Incarcerated and Formerly
Incarcerated Women and Girls, Massachusetts
National Lawyers Guild, Massachusetts Chapter
Neighbor 2 Neighbor
No Drug Arrests Collective (NDAC)
Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts
Real Cost of Prisons Project
Stuck on Replay
Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Boston
Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) – Western
Through Barbed Wire
Unitarian Universalist Mass Action Network
Women’s International League for Peace and
Freedom, Boston Chapter