Bill signed to save Georgia rape kit evidence until cases solved

Mark Niesse

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a bill Tuesday that requires police to save evidence gathered from sexual assaults, allowing them to track down suspects many years later.

The legislation, House Bill 282, will preserve DNA evidence of rapes and similar crimes for up to 50 years. Current state law allows evidence of sexual assaults to be discarded after 10 years.

"Georgia now has one of the strongest preservation laws in the country, and DNA evidence will help solve cold cases," said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, a Democrat from Atlanta who sponsored the bill.

The new law builds on a measure that passed in 2016 requiring a backlog of rape kits to be tested. Since then, several rapists have been identified through DNA evidence and more than 3,000 rape kits have been tested. Stains, fluids and hair samples will be kept for 50 years if no arrest is made.

Evidence will be preserved for 30 years from the time a suspect is arrested, or seven years after a sentence is completed, whichever occurs last.

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DNA Evidence Will be Stored for 50 Years Under New State Law

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Holcomb proposed the new rules after a CNN investigation found that law enforcement agencies in multiple states had destroyed rape kits while the statues of limitations for the crimes were still running. Georgia was not named in the story, but Holcomb said he wanted to ensure that the state had appropriate rules in place to preserve evidence. Read More »

Here are some of the state laws going into effect Monday

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"This bill builds upon our state's prior work to address the backlog of untested sexual assault kits," Holcomb said in a statement after the bill was signed into law in early May. "Now that we have the evidence, we need to preserve it. And bring cases." Read More »

Lawmakers Commended for Helpful Legislation

Thomasville Times-Enterprise

Another piece of forward-thinking legislation will require law-enforcement agencies to hang on to DNA evidence for a longer period of time.

Law-enforcement agencies will soon be required to save evidence collected from sexual assaults for as long as 50 years. That is about 40 years longer than they are required to keep it now.
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