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Busted

Examining Chemical Field Tests

Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?

Houston Police End Use of Drug Tests That Helped Produce Wrongful Convictions

The cheap kits were often the sole evidence used to win guilty pleas, against the innocent as well the as guilty.

Texas Panel on Wrongful Convictions Calls for Ending Use of Unverified Drug Field Tests

A commission established by lawmakers to help end the conviction of the innocent says field tests are too unreliable to be trusted without lab confirmation.

Vegas Prosecutors Seek Help in Identifying Convictions Won With Faulty Drug Tests

Request to defense attorneys suggests concern about integrity of guilty pleas won via $2 police tests known to be prone to error.

Street Hustle: The Truth Behind the ‘New’ Police Tool for Confronting Fentanyl Menace

Drug test manufacturer repackages old, error-prone chemical formula as cutting-edge product

Prosecutors in Portland Change Policy on Drug Convictions

No guilty plea for drug possession will stand in Multnomah County unless the preliminary police field tests used to make arrests are confirmed in a lab.

Confusion Over Drug Tests Highlights Lack of Training for Florida Officers

A series of embarrassments suggests Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office could use some instruction on using and interpreting field tests that have resulted in thousands of drug arrests in recent years.

Failing the Smell Test

Records suggest Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office trained drug-sniffing dogs with material that wasn’t drugs.

Defense Lawyers in Las Vegas Consider Formal Challenge to Use of Field Tests in Drug Prosecutions

Local defense bar explores options after ProPublica investigation showed that police and prosecutors continue to use flawed drug tests in sending thousands to jail.

Unreliable and Unchallenged

Years after the Las Vegas crime lab wanted to replace faulty police drug kits, they are still used in thousands of convictions.

Sustained Objections

For years, police and prosecutors have used special presentations to sell judges on the ​​​​​reliability of drug tests that help convict thousands.

‘No Field Test is Fail Safe’: Meet the Chemist Behind Houston’s Police Drug Kits

Decades after L.J. Scott developed a test for cocaine, his invention played a role in hundreds of wrongful convictions in Houston.

Busted

Tens of thousands of people every year are sent to jail based on the results of a $2 roadside drug test. Widespread evidence shows that these tests routinely produce false positives. Why are police departments and prosecutors still using them?

System Failures

Houston cases shed light on a disturbing possibility: that wrongful convictions are most often not isolated acts of misconduct by the authorities but systemic breakdowns — among judges and prosecutors, defense lawyers and crime labs.

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