Taylor Votes: SB 304/HB 827 – Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims

Tom’s vote: YES

The Pursuing Justice for Rape Victims Act was introduced in response to the discovery of a huge backlog of untested rape kits in hospitals, clinics, and law enforcement agencies throughout the state. According to an AJC investigation, Grady Memorial Hospital alone had more than 1,400 untested rape kits – a number they claimed had risen so high due to a lack of legal clarity about whether releasing the kits to law enforcement would violate federal privacy regulations. This bill seeks to clarify this issue.

Specifically, the bill outlines requirements for recording and reporting evidence collected during a forensic medical evaluation for investigations of rape or aggravated sodomy. Law enforcement officers collecting such evidence are required to provide email notification to the GBI Division of Forensic Sciences (the division) within 72 hours of collection. The bill also requires law enforcement to submit said evidence within 30 days and follow procedures of the division regardless of whether the evidence will be tested.

In addition, every law enforcement agency in the state is required to create a list of evidence resulting from any forensic medical evaluation during an investigation of rape or aggravated sodomy in the agency’s possession on July 1, 2016. The list must be submitted to the division by September 16, 2016 and must identify whether the listed evidence should be tested or stored.

Evidence on the list must be transferred to the division no later than November 16, 2016. HB 827 requires the division to issue an annual report detailing the number of rape and aggravated sodomy cases for which the division has tested or stored evidence. The division is required to submit this annual report to the Speaker, the Lieutenant Governor, the House Committee on Judiciary, Non-Civil, and the Senate Judiciary Non-Civil Committee.

This bi-partisan effort passed with overwhelming support and frankly was long overdue.  I was glad to be a co-sponsor of this legislation.