“It’s a sad day” doesn’t adequately describe when scientific fact is devoured and vomited back up by the prison industrial complex. Like cancer, or plague, the systematic subversion of justice for profit appears all encompassing, vast, parasitic. Ironically, an anecdote might come in the form of a lawsuit filed by a small group of persecuted researchers. The trio aim to hold New York Police Department officials accountable for suppressing new technology capable of exonerate the wrongfully convicted.
In their lawsuit, Phys.org reports, researchers Shannon Morris, Melissa Lee, and Kevin Rafferty reported “blowback” simply for supporting better technology. The three cite retaliation from administrators after pointing out flaws in current DNA processing methods. As a result, scientists of New York’s State Police Crime Lab explored a new system–TrueAllele. This is where things get… Orwellian.
The department reputedly scrapped TrueAllele once it’s potential to identify past errors in cases was realized. With TrueAllele’s augmented DNA analytics, a “small percentage” of convicted suspects may have been freed. Thirty-seven researchers, according to Phys.org, trained with TrueAllele, all were later targeted by administrative discipline.
Most were burdened by internal investigations and ethical violation citations, simply for criticizing old procedures. Shannon Morris, former assistant lab director, was promptly fired. Supervisors Melissa Lee and Kevin Rafferty kept their jobs, but were disciplined and then reassigned. Besides this, all maintain otherwise unblemished records in excess of 20 years. Predictably, Phys.org reports, New York’s State Police spokeswoman has refused to comment on the lawsuit or related topics.
“There are people that are very pro-prosecution”, says lawyer John Basley, according to Phys.org. “They are putting pressure on scientists to reach conclusions that were not scientifically valid.” Fortunately, courage matches the spread of prison industrial cancer, former medical examiner Marina Sunjic discovered. Sunjic, ABC News reports, filed her own lawsuit this week against police abuse of DNA analysis. Marina claims to have been forced from her job after questioning procedures she knew were inaccurate.
We may often underestimate the prison industrial complex’s uncanny ability to systematically hijack all facets of society. At this point, we almost expect dishonest, sometimes illegal methods to streamline convictions. This particular case is unique, as police officials attempted to subvert a supposedly inherently objective field–science. Were their motives political or an attempt to save face? Or were officials concerned over reopening cases which may have had flawed DNA testing?
These are, of course, baseless speculations on my part, it’s just worth thought. With luck, the trio will receive some measure of reparations for the tarnishing of their reputations, and the stresses of intimidation. Perhaps more scientist-conjured lawsuits will surface in the coming days, or weeks.