The full story airs tonight, and continues a rocky recent stretch for the Bexar adult probation department. Director Bill Fitzgerald fired the whistleblower who first identified problems with the drug tests, but chose to retain the contractor. Then last week, Fitzgerald fired his second in command without giving him or the public a reason.
Nobody likes being accused of something they didn't do. But many probationers here in Bexar County say that is exactly what is happening to them. And some are winding up in jail.
News 4 Trouble Shooter Brian Collister is probing problems with the Probation department's drug tests.
Since the county's probation department switched to a new drug testing lab earlier this year, the number of positive drug tests by probationers has skyrocketed.
But many of them say they are clean.
Lani Bennett tested positive for drugs while on probation. She was shocked when she was arrested at the drivers license office because of a warrant for a dirty drug test.
"They didn't give me any warning or anything," says Lani. "I'm (at) DPS trying to get a status of my license cause I'm trying to change over insurances for my car and I'm getting taken out in handcuffs."
She later got a hair test that shows she was clean.
"People are capable of change. I have the legal paperwork to prove that I have changed and I did not use."
And she is not alone.In fact, a News 4 Trouble Shooters investigation uncovered a flaw in the way the county is conducting these tests. Turns out people go to jail because the county wants to save a few bucks.
After beginning a consulting stint recently working for the Innocence Project of Texas, it's struck me that frequently "innocence" issues in the public lexicon are defined pretty narrowly - for the most part limited to murder or sexual assault cases involving DNA exonerations.
But "innocence" is also an issue whenever a probationer is sent to jail because because of a false positive on a urinalysis test, or when errors in breathalyzer technology falsely accuse someone of driving drunk. Faulty forensics aren't just limited to arson or ballistics: High error rates are tolerated in a variety of forensic disciplines.
While some high-profile exonerations have involved alleged police misconduct or prosecutors withholding Brady material, much more frequently innocent people are punished as a result of reliance on unreliable investigative methods and sloppy forensics. From the perspective of the person wrongly accused, however, the motives of authorities promoting false accusations matter very little.