A bill passed by the Georgia legislature will increase the amount of time police must hold on to sexual assault evidence.
Now, when victims go to police, investigators must maintain evidence for 30 years after an arrest or seven years after time served.
In Your Community
The Athens-Clarke County Police Department is already abiding by some aspects of the new legislation.
“Once we received the rape kits back from the state crime lab, we have been keeping those kits in perpetuity,” said Geof Gilland, the ACCPD Public Information Officer.
But the police department will make the necessary changes in order to fully comply.
“We may not have, in all cases, other evidence such as stains or clothing or something like that. That part of the law will just require us to hang on to those items in our evidence facility,” he said.
Gilland also said police departments will be impacted in different ways.
“Agencies that have an evidence building, like we do, it’s not that big of an issue to hold on to that type of evidence. Where I think the legislature intended this bill for, possibly, would be smaller agencies who don’t have those evidence collection techniques or evidence collection facilities,” he said.
Timeliness on Awareness
This bill passed during sexual assault awareness month.
There are many organizations in Athens and Northeast Georgia that offer resources for sexual assault victims. Some include:
- The Cottage: Sexual Assault Center
- Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention (RSVP)
- UGA Health Center – Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)
- Project Safe
- Piedmont Rape Crisis Center
Experts say it’s important to recognize what sexual assault is, when consent is given or denied, and how to maintain a healthy relationship.
Dani Terzer is a senior majoring in journalism in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.