Whenever a person goes to a police department claiming they were raped, they are taken to a hospital and given a rape kit, if the crime was recent enough. This kit gathers DNA and other evidence for use in criminal proceedings. While kits can be a hugely helpful tool, police departments across Georgia have stacks and stacks waiting to be processed.
There are currently at least 4,000 rape kits being processed through the state’s crime labs. It is estimated that getting through all of these kits will likely take six to seven years. That’s on top of the time that rape kits have already been sitting around — sometimes up to a decade. As such, there are victims who have not gotten a word about their case since they first submitting a kit years ago.
The main cause of the backlog? A lack of resources. State labs do not have the manpower to get through all the kits quicker than they are now. Nor do they have the money to do so. Processing the kits costs about $500 to $600 each, and if the state hires a private lab to speed up the process, that cost goes up to closer to $700. Nonetheless, about 50 kits a month are processed by a private lab in Utah.
With the other cases being tended to and the lack of resources, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation estimates they can process 10 to 15 kits per month on their own..
In an effort to speed the process, the GBI and its parent agency received a $2 million grant from the New York County District Attorney’s Office. This money should cover the outsourcing and processing of more than 3,100 kits.
There are new efforts in place to ensure a future backlog does not build up, including guidelines for future sexual assault response and pushing for faster testing.
If you have been the victim of sexual assault or rape in Atlanta, know that you are not alone. Rafi Law Firm is dedicated to making sure you get the justice you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.