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How to Fix a Drug Scandal



What's it rated? TV-MA

When? 2020

Where's it showing? Netflix

Erin Lee Carr (Mommy Dead and Dearest, Dirty Money) directs this four-part crime documentary that chronicles the 2013 Massachusetts drug lab scandal, one involving Annie Dookhan, who in her competitive desire to be the best lab technician and a favorite among law enforcement tampered with or forged narcotics tests, imperiling tens of thousands of convictions. And on the other side of the state, lab technician Sonja Farak, who it turns out was using both the "standards"—samples of pure drugs to compare to confiscated street drugs such as cocaine, meth, and LSD—as well as the street drugs sent for testing.

It's a fascinating look at the shoddy state of Massachusetts' drug labs, which were clearly more interested in cutting costs than properly overseeing their workers. Dookhan's supervisor should have known she couldn't turn out work at the pace she was going without forging many tests, and Farak's workmates must have been completely blind to the fact that she was cooking crack and smoking it in the lab.

In Farak's case, some scenes are reenacted by actress Shannon O'Neill. We also see interviews with Farak's real-life sister and mother, as well as journalists, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. It turns out a lot of people were given lengthy prison sentences based on fabricated tests, which makes you question our criminal justice system. It's made worse by the system refusing to release potentially innocent people. (Four episodes totaling 211 min.)


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