Cybersecdn- A recent study by Penn Cary Law School at the University of Pennsylvania highlights a disturbing trend in Georgia: nearly 1,000 individuals are falsely arrested each year due to inaccurate roadside drug tests.
These $2 disposable tests, used extensively by police to identify illegal substances during traffic stops or at crime scenes, have shown a high rate of false positives, leading to wrongful arrests and significant personal consequences for innocent people.
In 2018, a FOX 5 I-Team investigation in Georgia revealed 145 cases of false positives within a single year, stemming from either erroneous test results or misinterpretation by police. These tests, which have led to the mistaken identification of substances like cotton candy, vitamins, breath mints, and even bird droppings as drugs, have had dire repercussions. For instance, Simon Cofie and Clarice Doku spent two weeks in jail when a roadside test incorrectly identified folic acid as ecstasy.
The study, conducted by the Quattrone Center for the Fair Administration of Justice and partly funded by the Roadside Drug Test Innocence Alliance, involved cooperation from 82 law enforcement agencies across the nation. It revealed a startling statistic: annually, approximately 30,000 Americans are falsely arrested due to these faulty field test results.
Interestingly, the study used a combination of drug arrest statistics, department-level audits, and crime lab readings to arrive at these estimates, acknowledging the reliance on imperfect data. However, it pointed out a 3.7% failure rate in these tests, marking them as a significant contributor to wrongful arrests and convictions in the U.S.
Despite the evidence and concerns raised by entities like the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, many departments in Georgia continue to use these tests. The study’s author suggests that requiring additional evidence and better auditing could help mitigate the issues associated with these tests.