Georgia House backs bill to save rape kit evidence

3/7/19 - Atlanta  - Scott Holcomb, representative of district 81, is congratulated after HB 282 passes at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, March 7, 2019. EMILY HANEY / emily.haney@ajc.com
3/7/19 - Atlanta - Scott Holcomb, representative of district 81, is congratulated after HB 282 passes at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta, Georgia on Thursday, March 7, 2019. EMILY HANEY / emily.haney@ajc.com

Credit: Emily Haney

Credit: Emily Haney

The Georgia House voted unanimously Thursday to preserve sexual assault evidence indefinitely until cases are solved.

The legislation, House Bill 282, calls for police to save evidence of rapes and similar crimes so that perpetrators can be tracked down even many years later. Current state laws allow evidence of sexual assaults to be discarded after 10 years.

The bill, which passed 173-0, builds on a state law passed in 2016 that required a large backlog of rape kits to be tested.

Since then, more than 3,000 rape kits have been tested and serial rapists have been identified through DNA evidence, said state Rep. Scott Holcomb, the bill's sponsor.

"These crimes change and damage lives to a degree that is really incredible,” said said Holcomb, a Democrat from Atlanta. “Now that we’ve done all this testing, it may take time, it may take even decades, to get a match to the person who did it.”

The legislation now advances to the state Senate.

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