Gotcha! It was a trick question: There is no other reason. Every time this issue comes up there is no credible justification forthcoming from officials giving these tests. Houston Chronicle columnist Lisa Falkenberg reports today on:
Falkenberg frames the issue in terms of "Due process for everyone," but really this is about actual innocence, not technical niceties - false postive tests accuse parolees of using drugs when they didn't actually do them.
long-standing concerns over the accuracy of drug-testing methods at Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
In smaller offices, such as Huntsville, samples are tested in-house by parole officers, not by technicians at certified labs, Collier confirmed. He couldn't tell me offhand how much training the officers get. The offices regulate themselves.
TDCJ uses quick screening tests. These are sensitive to false positives, said Anthony Okorodudu, clinical chemistry director at the University of Texas Medical Branch.
Yet TDCJ has no reliable way of checking for error. If it gets a positive, another part of the same sample is run through the same machine.
Results are not confirmed through a different, more advanced testing method, as is the industry standard in professional labs. ...
Of course, the results are still admissible in parole-board hearings and can lead to revocations, if the offender refuses treatment or has more dirty tests.
It's not just Texas parole departments where undertrained workers conduct flawed "quick screen" urinalyses with little training or oversight. Earlier this year the SA Express News' Elizabeth Allen wrote a story revealing how the Bexar County probation department knowingly condoned false positives (because confirming tests would cost too much) and let urine samples sit around unrefrigerated too long before testing them. (See this Grits post.) The Bexar probation department threw out 15,000 samples last year because they were too old to accurately test.
I've heard about this problem now forever - most criminal defense lawyers know the tests are unreliable, and once or twice a year a reporter somewhere around the state stumbles onto the topic and writes it up as a local story, with the inevitable result that nothing changes. But this is happening everywhere in the state, and at great taxpayer expense. At this point if the cheaper tests aren't accurate or confirmable - and they aren't - they shouldn't be used on anyone. It'd be better not to test at all than knowingly tolerate false positives.