Monday, April 8, 2013

What a Nightmare

Front-page story in Saturday’s Houston Chronicle:

“Despite lack of skills or knowledge, one forensic tech kept on for years … A forensic examiner in the Texas Department of Public Safety crime lab in Houston was kept on the job despite years of low production, a high error rate on drug cases and a dubious understanding of the chemistry involved in the job …Nearly 5,000 drug cases statewide that were analyzed by forensic examiner Jonathan Salvador are in question because of his shoddy work.”

Can you imagine being Jonathan Salvador?

Yes, there are bigger issues here. His mistakes may have sent innocent people to prison. All the cases he was involved in –several thousand – have to be re-investigated. One local attorney general has adopted the policy that, if a case’s evidence was ever in Salvador’s custody, that case is dismissed. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has overturned more than a dozen convictions because Salvador handled the evidence, reasoning, according to the Chronicle, “that any evidence in Salvador’s custody was ‘compromised.’”

But can you imagine being Salvador? According to the paper, he “scrambled” to handle the bare minimum workload at the department. He was a friendly guy and tried, so he was kept on, but he didn’t understand the science involved in his job.

The newspaper focuses, rightly, on why the department kept him on, but why would he stay, even if no one fired him? Why didn’t he take a class or something to get better at what he did all day every day for years?

Sadly, there are a lot of people who spend their entire lives doing a crappy job at their jobs, doing damage and sowing misery.

Horrible all around.

No comments:

Post a Comment