April 24, 2019 Chamblee - Governor Brian Kemp speaks as he starts a statewide tour to mark his first 100 days as Georgia's 83rd Governor at DeKalb-Peachtree Airport on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Wednesday, April 24th, Governor Brian P. Kemp launched a statewide tour to mark his first 100 days as Georgia's 83rd Governor. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Bill signed to save Georgia rape kit evidence until cases solved

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.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.