Friday, December 30, 2005

Jailed for carrying flour

Here's the drug war outrage of the day. A freshman college student spent Christmas and an additional three weeks in jail for carrying condoms filled with flour in her suitcase. The condoms were a gag gift assembled by the student and her friends, meant to be a stress reliever not unlike the rubber gag gifts you might find in a mall shop that sells such things.

A field test at the airport allegedly showed that the condoms contained opium, cocaine and possibly amphetamines - a ridiculous combo to begin with. Subsequent tests showed she was telling the truth and it was just flour. If she wasn't recognized by a jail guard who enlisted help for her, she might still be in jail.

This occurred in 2003 and she just filed a suit, which seeks to answer an important question for all innocent travelers - why was the field so wrong? One might note the young lady in question is Korean.
Ellen Green-Ceisler, who directed the Police Department's Office of Integrity and Accountability from 1997 to 2005, called Lee's case highly unusual. Field tests are rarely wrong.

"I've looked at thousands of these cases, and in the context of trained narcotics officers, it almost never happens," she said. "The whole issue will come down to the field test. Was the officer trained? Was the test contaminated?"
Almost never wrong doesn't cut it in my book. It makes you wonder how many other innocent people have suffered from flawed results.


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