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County Tried Misusing Drug Tests

By Sean Stillmaker in News on Feb 13, 2011 6:45PM

crook county.jpg A medical laboratory that conducts the drug tests for probationers was pressured by officials in the Cook County Adult Probation Department and Cook County judges to submit more data that could turn a passing test into a failed one. The recent news is a part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged massive corruption of this department.

In normal court proceedings the medical laboratory tells a judge if the probationer passed or failed his/her drug test. If the probationer failed the test the results are given, and no data is submitted if they passed the test.

The department and judges have been seeking the data from the passed tests to see if there were any small amounts of drugs detected. “They want the negative concentrations so they can make an uneducated, nonscientific, subjective decision as to whether an individual still has traces of a drug in them,” Warren Cooper, owner of Acculab, told the Illinois Policy Institute.

Cooper refused to give the negative concentrations data. He has 30 years of experience in the field and agrees the data is not quantitative nor qualitative to estimate the presence of a drug. He submitted research papers, and letters to the judges and officials, but they supposedly disregarded them.

A third of the 29 Illinois drug courts polled by the institute do not use negative drug concentrations to evaluate their decision, but Cook County’s different. The medical laboratory that had the contract before Acculab was TASC. They submitted the negative concentrations to judges.

Since Cooper refused to submit the data the county could have jailed him for contempt of court charges. After this piece of the investigation broke, Circuit Court Judge Charles Burns rescinded his order for the data and let Cooper off the hook.

This isn’t the first instance of a probation department whistleblower being retaliated against. The entire department is ripe with perpetual fraud, waste and abuse that reporter Lee Williams has been uncovering: