Ga. law allows survivors to track rape kits

A backlog of unprocessed rape kits continues to be an issue in Georgia.
A backlog of unprocessed rape kits continues to be an issue in Georgia.(WTOC)
Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 10:30 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - A new law in Georgia will help survivors of sexual assault keep track of their rape kit.

We’ve told you before about the states backlog of unprocessed rape kits. Some survivors are waiting more than a year for results.

This new law will help give survivors the confidence of knowing their test isn’t somewhere collecting dust.

Its called the Sexual Assault Reform Act. It went into effect July 1.

Not only will it allow survivors to keep track of rape kits, the law also establishes a sexual assault protocol committee, requiring law enforcement agencies that investigate rape allegations, and other sexual crimes to submit information into an FBI database.

The Rape Crisis Center says agencies are excited about this new law. The Executive Director believes it’ll give power back to survivors and give them more access than they’ve ever had before.

“I’m surprised that Georgia, we haven’t done it sooner but we’re very excited,” said Doris L. Williams, Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center.

Williams says the Sexual Assault Reform Act will allow survivors, advocacy agencies and law enforcement to know where a rape kit is at any moment. Something that has never been this accessible in Georgia before.

“This allows every body that’s part of the process to see where the kit is and I think it puts some traction under all of our feet to make sure that we‘re doing it and everything moves expediently.”

It works like this, people will be able to see the status of the kit from when it’s manufactured, when it’s in the hands of law enforcement, sexual assault center, or hospital to when it’s processed and completed.

Williams says normally if survivors want to know the status of their kit, they’d call them or a detective for help. This new law allows them to be part of the process.

“I think for them to be able to go online themselves, if they don’t want to of course we will still provide that information but they’ll have the power to go online themselves and look at it and see where it is and have any questions like “Why is it still sitting there? And that gives them bad power and control of the situation.”

Back in May, the GBI told us one of the reasons for the backlog is because there’s not enough forensic scientists. The agency says it takes between one to two years to train new ones.

Williams also hopes the new law will also shine a light on the areas where more help and funding is needed.

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