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The Boston Globe

Opinion

LAWRENCE HARMON

Managing the fallout from freed felons

Crooked chemist Annie Dookhan has turned Massachusetts into a criminal justice laboratory by creating the perfect conditions for the premature return of hundreds of convicted felons to the streets. Similar to a chemistry experiment, the legal system is about to find out what it is made of and how it reacts to different conditions.

The forced experiment has gone surprisingly well since August when the Patrick administration shuttered the miserably managed state laboratory where Dookhan worked. Court workers in a judicial boiler room are rapidly identifying and prioritizing cases stemming from Dookhan’s admission that she mishandled and falsified drug evidence, potentially jeopardizing 34,000 criminal cases. Special sessions of the Trial Court are expediting those cases. And state prisons are convening special reentry panels to connect freed inmates with the social services that might prevent them from offending again.

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