The William A. Hinton State Laboratory Institute at 305 South St. has been thrust into the spotlight by the state drug lab scandal, but it is not the first time the site has been involved with controversy.
About 25 years ago, the state planned to build a separate crime lab and state medical examiner’s office next to the Institute before community opposition killed the project.
The Jamaica Plain Citizen, which recently ceased operations, published an article on Feb. 6, 1986 titled, “Neighborhood Wins—Crime Lab Dead” that delves into the details of what happened.
According to the article, residents had no idea about the three-year-old plan to build the $6.1 million building until October 1985, when preliminary plans were released.
A meeting was held on Feb. 4, 1986 where about 150 people showed up, mostly to express their displeasure over the project because of concerns with traffic, construction in the area and that the proposed building would further cutoff the Arnold Arboretum from residents.
The project was subsequently killed. The drug lab remained inside the Institute, in reportedly cramped conditions that may have set the stage for the current scandal.
The Institute was thrust into the spotlight because it housed the now-closed state drug lab where former chemist Annie Dookhan is accused of mishandling thousands of drug samples. Dookhan actions have put numerous convictions in doubt and she is currently facing several criminal charges.