Menino, Davis warn of surge in crime
Boston officials prepare for release of hundreds of inmates
The Suffolk County District Attorney says he and his staff will do everything they can in court to keep a scandal at a state drug lab from returning hundreds of dangerous criminals to the streets, but Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and his police commissioner say they are nevertheless preparing to deal with a sharp increase in crime.
Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said after a press conference at Boston City Hall that 60 percent of inmates typically commit another crime after being released. He said the alleged evidence tampering by chemist Annie Dookhan at the state drug lab could end up releasing hundreds of inmates to the streets in a short period of time.
Dookhan has acknowledged mishandling some drug tests, and the state’s courts starting next week plan to methodically start reviewing all of the cases in which she was involved. Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said 1,140 inmates in state prisons could be affected – about half of them from Suffolk County.
Davis and Conley said they intend to begin dispatching teams to state prisons starting on Friday that will lay down the law to any inmates who are about to be released. Davis said the teams will make the inmates aware of resources available to help them, but he said the groups will also warn the prisoners that if they get out and commit another crime they will be arrested and prosecuted.
“These are not young low-level drug addicts we’re talking about,” Conley said. “These are high-level drug traffickers…This is a tough group of people.”
Menino, who was joined by US Attorney Carmen Ortiz but no members of the Patrick administration, called on state and federal officials to appropriate more money for Massachusetts municipalities to deal with the crisis. He said $3.5 million would be needed in Boston just for additional police officers.“This is an emergency situation for our neighborhoods,” Menino said. “We see the potential and we want to get ahead of it.”
Conley also made clear the problems started with the state while the burden falls on local communities. “This is an utter disgrace,” he said. “We will have to deal with the fallout.”