The Detroit Free Press made an astonishing discovery last month. the city's former crime lab had been abandoned. As the paper reported, "Thousands of rounds of live ammunition, sealed evidence kits and case files -- some containing Social Security numbers of rape and assault victims" sat unattended in an old elementary school building, accessible to anyone who happened upon them.
The lab was closed in 2008 after another investigation revealed habitually sloppy analysis among the lab's workers, and an error rate as high as 10 percent, a jaw-dropping figure considering that those analysts' testimony can send someone to prison. The city expected the results of that investigation could have reopened thousands of cases and subject Detroit to hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.