AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Gov. Deal signed the rape kit bill today. Now the hard work begins.

Gov. Nathan Deal signed a bill this morning that aims to ensure the timely testing of sexual assault evidence.

Tuesday's signing marks the end of an unexpectedly difficult bid to bring rape kit reform to Georgia, but it is likely only the beginning of what could be a years-long process to bring justice to victims.

The bill also requires law enforcement to hunt down and collect evidence from old cases that might be languishing in evidence rooms and at hospitals. It could take a long time to analyze it.

Some 1,500 untested kits were being kept in file cabinets at Grady Memorial Hospital alone because police failed to pick them up. Advocates estimate that there are at least hundreds of additional across Georgia.

The results may well raise new questions for local and state law enforcement leaders.

An Ohio effort identified suspects in 35 percent of cases, and found that many were likely repeat offenders. If this holds true in Georgia, and local and state leaders decide to use this evidence to put perpetrators in jail, they have a long road ahead.

Victims would have to be contacted. Prosecutors would have to decide whether to press charges.

Stay tuned.


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