City officials warn of ‘looming crisis’ from fallout of drug lab closure
While city officials painted a worrisome picture from the impact of violent drug offenders being suddenly released from jail as part of the drug lab crisis fallout, they also asked state and federal leaders for monetary and resource assistance to get ahead of the issue.
“Make no mistake, this is a looming crisis,” said police Commissioner Ed Davis.
Local, state and federal authorities and leaders announced the formation of a “crisis re-entry plan” that they expected to launch Friday.
An untold number of inmates and drug defendants could be released as a result of the thousands of potentially tainted cases by former state chemist Annie Dookhan who is accused of mishandling drug samples at a Jamaica Plain lab. Some drug suspects have already been released as special court hearings get underway.
The plan was formed after holding emergency meetings in the wake of the crisis, the officials said. It includes holding mandatory pre-release meetings for inmates with a team comprised of members of the Boston police, Suffolk district attorney’s office, probation department and the Boston Centers for Youth and Family. Also, additional resources will be made available to the Boston police drug unit, gang unit and safe street team, officials said.
Mayor Thomas Menino said he is going to make a formal request for federal and state resources to help offset the re-entry efforts. He estimated that it could cost more than $3.5 million just for increased police patrols.
Suffolk District Attorney Daniel Conley said the issue worries him and estimated that between 400 and 600 inmates and drug suspects could return to the city.
“We’re not talking about low-level drug addicts here. We’re talking about high-level drug traffickers,” Conley said. “This should cause all of us concern.”
The leaders also ripped the state over the drug lab crisis fallout.
During the announcement of the “crisis re-entry plan,” officials said they were planning to seek additional resources and emergency funds from the state and federal government to help with the drug lab fallout.
Conley pointed out that the Jamaica Plain drug lab was run by the state Department of Public Health.
“None of us had anything to do with what happened over there, but we will have to deal with the fall out and pick up the pieces and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
Mayor Thomas Menino said it’s an “emergency situation.”
“I continue to hear conversations up at Beacon Hill about this, and you know, the conversations are over. People are getting released to the streets. Let’s have some action here. We’re ready to go to work,” he said.