Disgraced Crime Lab Chemist Annie Dookhan Released from Prison

Dookhan was believed to be involved in the tampering of evidence in over 46,000 cases.

Annie Dookhan in Norfolk Superior Court with her attorney, Nick Gordon in 2013. Photo by Joe Spurr via Flickr/Creative Commons

Annie Dookhan in Norfolk Superior Court with her attorney, Nick Gordon in 2013. / Photo by Joe Spurr via Flickr/Creative Commons

Annie Dookhan, the former state crime lab chemist who pled guilty in 2012 to 27 counts related to her tampering with evidence, has been paroled from state prison.

Dookhan’s exact date of release has not been reported, but her attorney Nicolas Gordon estimated she was released from prison over a month ago. The Boston Herald broke the story Tuesday morning. A call by Boston to the Department of Corrections confirmed that Dookhan had been paroled and was no longer in state custody. Dookhan was sentenced to prison in 2013.

The disgraced chemist is believed to have been responsible for falsifying thousands of drug tests for Massachusetts defendants, leading to the questionable conviction of an untold number of individuals. When she was arrested, Dookhan had worked on over 60,000 samples in 34,000 cases since joining the Department of Public Healthy’s Hinton Laboratory in 2003. Approximately 300 convicted individuals have been released from prison because of her tainting evidence in their cases. By the end of 2014, only 1,200 so-called “Dookhan defendants” sought post-conviction relief, according to court filings.

Since her arrest, the State Police have taken over responsibility for crime lab testing from the Department of Public Health. Hinton Laboratory was closed by then-Governor Deval Patrick in 2012 in response to Dookhan’s arrest and guilty plea. A thorough report by an independent investigator appointed by Patrick determined that Dookhan was the sole bad actor in the crime lab, though she was enabled by the poor management of the crime lab. In addition to tampering with evidence, Dookhan falsely claimed she held a masters degree in chemistry and was working toward a doctorate.

Dookhan has never explained her motivation for tampering with evidence in so many cases. Subsequent reports by the media and the state have been unable to determine why she decided to alter so much evidence during her time as a crime lab chemist.