Busted: How a $2 Roadside Drug Test Sends Innocent People to Jail

Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders, How a $2 Roadside Drug Test Sends Innocent People to Jail. ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine, 7 July 2016. “This story was co-published with The New York Times Magazine…. 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?”

Update, August 2016: Sidney Awards, Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders Win August Sidney for Exposing Faulty Roadside Drug Tests that Send Innocent People to Jail.

“Ryan Gabrielson and Topher Sanders of ProPublica win the August Sidney for “Busted: How $2 Roadside Drug Tests Send Innocent People to Jail.”

“The story, co-published with the New York Times Magazine, found that faulty roadside drug tests send thousands of people to jail every year. These tests are so unreliable that they are inadmissible in court, yet motorists plead guilty based on tests that can be tripped false positive by dozens of common, legal chemicals, including household cleaners.

A false positive test for crack cocaine turned Amy Albritton’s life upside down. The 43-year-old property manager had no criminal record until a particle on the floor of her car falsely tested positive for crack cocaine. Follow-up tests pegged the substance as food debris, possibly a breadcrumb.

There’s no way to know how many wrongful convictions arise from false roadside results, but as Gabrielson noted in an interview with the Backstory, “even the smallest of false positive rates would produce hundreds annually.””

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‘Redlining’ Home Loan Discrimination Re-emerges as a Concern for Regulators

Rachel L. Swarns, ‘Redlining’ Home Loan Discrimination Re-emerges as a Concern for Regulators. The New York Times, 30 October 2015. “In 2014, Hudson [City Savings Bank] approved 1,886 mortgages in the market that includes New Jersey and sections of New York and Connecticut, federal mortgage data show. Only 25 of those loans went to black borrowers.”

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The Guantánamo “Suicides”

Scott Horton, The Guantánamo Suicides. Harper’s, March 2010. “Late on the evening of June 9 [2006]…, three prisoners at Guantánamo died suddenly and violently. Salah Ahmed Al-Salami, from Yemen, was thirty-seven. Mani Shaman Al-Utaybi, from Saudi Arabia, was thirty. Yasser Talal Al-Zahrani, also from Saudi Arabia, was twenty-two, and had been imprisoned at Guantánamo since he was captured at the age of seventeen. None of the men had been charged with a crime, though all three had been engaged in hunger strikes to protest the conditions of their imprisonment. They were being held in a cell block, known as Alpha Block, reserved for particularly troublesome or high-value prisoners.” See also Scott Horton, Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta. Harper’s, 4 June 2014. Mark Denbeaux [professor at Seton Hall Law School] on the NCIS cover-up of three ‘suicides’ at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp.” (This article also has a link for the Seton Hall Law School 2009 report, “Death in Camp Delta.“)

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Sexual Assault on Campus

Kristen Lombardi, Sexual Assault on Campus. The Center for Public Integrity. 1 December 2009. “Students found ‘responsible’ for sexual assaults on campus often face little or no punishment from school judicial systems, while their victims’ lives are frequently turned upside down, according to a year-long investigation by the Center for Public Integrity. Administrators believe the sanctions administered by the college judiciary system are a thoughtful way to hold abusive students accountable, but the Center’s probe has discovered that “responsible” findings rarely lead to tough punishments like expulsion — even in cases involving alleged repeat offenders.” Multi-part series of articles.

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