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Prison drug tests produced false positives

Dec 01, 2023 12:55 am

Raga Justin reports in the Times Union that state Inspector General Lucy Lang’s office released a report on Nov. 30 that says the state’s prison agency used unreliable drug screening tests that produced false positive results. More than 2,000 inmates received disciplinary sanctions because of those false positive results. Corrections officials blamed unclear and misleading instructions with the tests for the large number of false positives. Prison officials would often not wait to confirm the results through a laboratory, which the company explicitly recommended, but used the initial results to punish inmates. The report said, “The consequences stemming from the deficiencies in Department of Corrections and Community Supervisions’ Contraband Testing Program may be far-reaching.... [and the punishments included] solitary confinement in a Special Housing Unit (SHU); cell confinement (keeplock); delays in parole eligibility; loss of privileges including commissary, telephone, and receipt of packages; loss of access to prison rehabilitation programs, loss of ‘good time’ parole credit and family visitation rights, missed parole interviews, and other adverse effects on Board of Parole decisions.” Of more than 2,220 “guilty” charges for drug possession, nearly 70 percent were later modified because they came from the “Sirchie NARK II” field tests. Read more about this story in the Times Union.