August 1, 2016
DEKALB COUNTY, GA (CBS46) -
The deadline has passed for untested sexual assault kits to be submitted to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab for testing.
A new state law required law enforcement agencies statewide to turn in any untested kits by August 31. The GBI has received thousands of untested evidence kits, some of which are several years old.
The GBI reports receiving 541 kits in July and 1,994 kits in August, from both older and more recent cases. That's in addition to more than 3,000 active cases the crime lab was already processing, according to GBI spokesperson Nelly Miles.
Thanks to a grant, the GBI will outsource some of the testing to ease the workload of its crime lab scientists. Kits that include exams that were performed before 2015 will be sent to a lab out of state.
"We don't rush through the process. What we're just doing is trying to be able to balance the workload that we already had," said Miles.
The evidence obtained from testing the kits will be entered into a database with DNA samples from convicted offenders and crime scenes.
Miles said, "We'll determine whether or not there's a hit and if there's a match against a sample that's already in this particular DNA database."
"I do think it's a good thing overall because the process itself is pretty invasive and if you're a victim who's been traumatized, you're going through this procedure to be tested with the rape kit and then it just sits in a room forever," said Asher Burk, legal advocate with Women's Resource Center to End Domestic Violence.
He added, however, "Some people may have healed in their own ways or moved on and may not want to deal with the system anymore and so I kind of wonder what that might look like for those victims."
Miles said, "This really acts as a fresh start for law enforcement agencies as we were seeking to get clarity on how to handle sexual assault kits. No matter where the case stands, we now know all of them should come to the crime lab," she added.
Law enforcement agencies now have 96 hours to pick up evidence kits from hospitals and then have 30 days to turn them in to the GBI crime lab.
Copyright 2016 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.http://www.cbs46.com/story/32969111/gbi-receives-thousands-of-untested-rape-kits
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