Pilot program allows sexual assault survivors to track rape kits
ATLANTA - A new tracking system will help law enforcement agencies address the backlog of rape kits in the state. A few counties in our area are now taking part in the pilot program to help sexual assault survivors.
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office is one of the agencies involved in this pilot program.
We're told this is a significant move in supporting survivors and holding offenders accountable.
This program will finally allow survivors to track the status of their rape kit as it moves through the criminal justice system.
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"I think this is an empowerment," Ashley Husley, the Carroll County Communication's Director, expressed.
She hopes the new tracking system will give rape survivors peace of mind.
"Hopefully, it gives them hope that their kits aren't being sent to the crime lab and just sitting there for years on end," she described.
Essentially, what will now happen with sexual assault cases is a card will be included in a survivor's rape kit. It features a barcode that'll match the barcode at the bottom of the kit.
"The survivor will get this card and they are able to go online and set up their own account where they can track step by step the chain of evidence and where this kit goes and when it's processed through the state, so that's really important," Hulsey described.
Along with providing victims with updates about their cases, the system will offer vital information to policymakers and law enforcement about these crimes.
The new system was mandated by State House Bill 255, The Sexual Assault Reform Act of 2021.
"A lot of survivors contact us afterward and want to know how long is it going to take, has it been processed," Hulsey said.
Bill sponsors believe it'll help manage the state's backlog of rape kits.
"I wouldn't be able to speak on GBI's behalf on that but I do believe they're probably overwhelmed. There's a shortage of workers in the workforce," Hulsey explained.
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The most important goal now is to have more perpetrators identified and convicted.
"I think it's gonna be more accountability for all agencies involved and hopefully we'll get quicker outcomes instead of it sitting in a room somewhere for lord knows how long."
Right now, only law enforcement agencies in Athens-Clarke, Richmond, Dougherty, Carroll, Gwinnett, and Chatham counties use the system.
It’s done through a partnership with the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. The council said all required agencies statewide must start using the system by next June.
To find more about the new program, click here.