372983 02: A civilian scientist working in the Broward County crime lab handles processed DNA extractions that were taken from blood samples of convicted criminals July 13, 2000 in Fort Lauderdale, FL. Since the DNA Identification Act of 1994 was passed the Federal Bureau of Investigation has established a national database of DNA taken from the blood samples of convicted criminals. The DNA data is used by law enforcement agencies in 22 states to help identify suspects who were previously unknown to investigators. In Florida, DNA blood samples are mandatory if one is convicted for the following offenses or attempted offenses: Car jacking, murder, sexual assault, lewd or indecent acts, aggravated battery, and home invasion. (Photo by Robert King/Newsmakers)
Nearly 300 inmates who were convicted of drug and drunk-driving offenses in Nassau County are receiving letters informing them of recent problems unearthed at the county's police department crime lab.
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice sent letters to 244 inmates of upstate prisons and 39 inmates of the Nassau County jail, informing the prisoners of the police crime lab's failures and provided them with contact information for private and indigent legal counsel in Nassau County.
The letters began arriving this week.
The troubled crime lab was shut down last month following revelations that inaccurate measurements involving drug cases were known by police officials several months before a national accrediting agency placed it on probation.
Nearly 9,000 drug cases dating to late 2007 are currently being reviewed for signs of errors.
Meanwhile, new problems were uncovered earlier this month, according to Newsday. The paper reported that prosecutors found the Nassau police crime lab mismatched reports on blood-alcohol tests in drunken driving cases last fall.
D.A. Rice said the letters are part of an effort to inform anyone who might have been touched by inaccuracy at the lab.
“Since the revelations about the Nassau County crime lab have come to light, we have gone to great lengths to keep the public, defense counsel and now inmates informed of the errors at the police lab,” Rice said.
“It’s not enough to assume these inmates read the papers or that their prior lawyers will look them up. I felt strongly that we should proactively inform them and that this was a necessary step to ensuring transparency and fairness in the criminal justice system," she said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appointed the state inspector general to review testing procedures and protocols at the lab that closed after revelations it was generating inaccurate measurements in drug cases.