March 22, 2019 - Atlanta - Sen. Renee Unterman supported a bill that requires Georgia law enforcement agencies to save sexual assault evidence for up to 50 years. The bill passed the Georgia General Assembly on Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com
Photo: Bob Andres/bandres@ajc.com

Georgia Legislature votes to save rape and assault evidence

Evidence gathered from sexual assaults could be saved for decades, helping police use it to solve crimes, according to a bill heading to Gov. Brian Kemp.

Both the House and Senate voted Tuesday to approve House Bill 282, which calls for police to preserve 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.

Legislators in the House broke into applause after the bill passed 156-0. The Senate earlier approved the bill 55-0.

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Photos: Sine Die at the Georgia legislature

The measure builds on a state law passed in 2016 that required a backlog of rape kits to be tested. Since then, more than 3,000 rape kits have been tested, and rapists have been identified through DNA evidence.

Under the legislation, evidence including stains, fluids and hair samples would be kept for 50 years if no arrest is made. 

Evidence would be preserved for 30 years from the time a suspect is arrested, or seven years after a sentence is completed, whichever occurs last.

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