"I haven't let myself be angry about what happened, because it would tear me apart," Lee said. "I'm not sure I can bear to face it... . I'm amazed at how naive I was."Under a justice system that is truly just, demonstrable innocence would guarantee exoneration from any criminal accusation. Unfortunately, as Lee points out, the view that our own justice system rises to that standard of truly just is simply "naive."
The troubling question here is, why did the police lab results repeatedly test positive for the presence of any illegal drug at all--much less three!--when none were present? As Ellen Green-Crysler, former director of the Philadelphia PD's Office of Integrity and Accountability put it:
"The whole issue will come down to the field test. Was the officer trained? Was the test contaminated?"The issue does rest on why the results on Lee's flour came back wrong on three separate trials. Either the officer conducting the test was incompetent or the testing equipment itself was off, through contamination or miscalibration. But a prison guard why took sympathy on Lee and her plight, offered another possible reason for the errors:
A prison guard recognized her from a Bryn Mawr volunteer job at Overbrook High School and took pity on her. The guard told Lee that she believed her and that the whole thing was probably racial.Look, it's understandable that police would initially look skeptically on Lee's explanation for the condoms full of white powder. So it's not unreasonable that they would want to run some tests. But when a substance that contains no illegal drug at all returns a false positive result on repeated trials, none of the available explanations do much to inspire confidence in the government's chances of winning its War on Drugs.
If the equipment was to blame, then how many others have been falsely accused based on tests using the same bad equipment? If the officers conducting the tests simply weren't competent to follow the proper lab procedures, again, how many others have been falsely accused? Or could the fixing of the results have been deliberate? For their part, Philadelphia PD hasn't had much at all to say on the matter. It'll be interesting to see what facts eventually come out in this most unusual case.