The Georgia State Senate will meet Tuesday and on its schedule is a bill that aims to speed up the process of gathering evidence of a rape.
House Bill 827, better known as the Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act, passed through the House unanimously in late February. This bill would require hospitals and clinics to turn in physical evidence of a sexual crime, commonly known as a rape kit, to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation within 96 hours. Additionally, the bill would also require Law Enforcement to turn in its evidence to the GBI within 30 days. Finally, the bill proposes a process to eliminate the backlog of the hundreds unresolved rape cases that have been uncovered in recent investigations.
The bill has met opposition in the Senate. Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) said she would not allow the bill to advance to the Senate floor for a vote.
Sally Sheppard, executive director of The North Georgia Cottage, said she agrees the bill is a step in the right direction but is concerned about the backlog elimination process.
“Let’s say we have thousands of rape kits now that [the Georgia Bureau of Investigations] are mandated to do this specific testing on,” Sheppard said. “That will further backlog our rapes from recent to test rape kits from a long time ago.”
The Georgia State Senate will meet tomorrow and House Bill 827 is on the schedule to be discussed. The General Assembly adjourns Thursday.
By Zak Huberty