Every organization dreads the falsely competent employee who is secretly cutting corners and covering their tracks. Sometimes, they are embezzlers. Sometimes they are plagiarists, or journalists who fabricate quotes and only pretend to check sources. Sometimes they are managers, CEOs, generals and leaders who are faking it, not providing oversight and diligently making sure that others are doing their jobs. These people are thieves, essentially: they are stealing their salaries under the false pretense that they know what they are doing and can be trusted. Often they are worse than thieves, because they sap their organizations of efficiency and momentum, secretly, stealthily. Needless to say, government bureaucracies are crawling with them, and they cost all of us money, security, hope and happiness.
Annie Doohkan is one of the worst of this breed I have ever encountered. She was a state chemist in Massachusetts who intentionally mishandled evidence in drug cases, rushing results, falsifying them, certifying that she did tests when she really didn’t. Finally the lies became too much to hide, and she was exposed, but not before her perfidy forced the release of hundreds of convicts, raised new questions about thousands of other cases, and forced the state to spend millions of dollars. Apparently she had no greater motive for inflicting this carnage than her desire to give police and prosecutors what they wanted, and to appear to be fast, efficient and reliable.
As a consequence of her fakery, 950 people have been given a total of 2,922 special Superior Court hearings since last fall, when the vast scale of Dookhan’s activities was discovered. The Massachusetts Department of Correction has released more than 300 people convicted in drug cases where Dookhan played a role. More than 600 people have had their convictions erased or temporarily set aside because of how she handled evidence, and the end is not yet in sight.
She is going to jail for three to five years, far too light a sentence. Since there is a substantial chance someone else will trust her at some point after her release, and maybe many people, she should be imprisoned for life in order to protect society. Three to five years for falsely causing the convictions hundreds of people, sending many of them to jail, just so she could look good to superiors? Throw the key away. This is a betrayal is on the same scale as treason.
Now just think about how many Annie Dookhans are out there, undetected, perhaps overseeing some aspect of your business, your welfare, your life.
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