Less than a year after a bipartisan group pushed for increased testing of rape kits, we’re beginning to see the scope of the problem.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation, or GBI, released a report earlier this month detailing their findings and the progress they’ve made testing the backlog of rape kits.
There are currently more than 4,200 rape kits that need to be tested, and, at the current rate these kits are being tested, it will take 6 years to complete testing, WABE reports.
The GBI has an additional 5,400 rape kits stored from cases that occurred prior to 1999.
Currently, funding for testing these kits is only coming from a $2 million grant the state received from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office. The state will need to allocate additional resources if they want to bring down that six year time frame to a more reasonable and expeditious number.
So often, rapes and sexual assaults are committed by folks — almost all men (the vast majority white men) — that are serial rapists. It’s likely an expeditious testing process would reveal patterns of individuals who have committed many assaults rather than 9,000 rapists on the loose in Georgia.
George Herrin, deputy director of the GBI Crime Lab, told WABE:
“That’s the problem that’s faced by laboratory directors all across the country, is that there is such a volume of these cases,” he said. “And the technology, I mean, it just takes a certain amount of time. It’s not like ‘CSI’ on TV – you don’t submit your sample and, 15 minutes later, get your answer.”
Despite the blockade from Sen. Renee Unterman, who “doesn’t appreciate Better Georgia” holding her accountable for her obstructionism, Rep. Scott Holcomb and Sen. Elena Parent championed the law passed earlier this year to deal with the unreported, untested backlog of rape kits. Holcomb told the AJC, “I’m horrified that there are so many victims who are waiting for justice…But I’m encouraged that cases are now moving forward. Much more work needs to be done.”
Rape and sexual assault are especially egregious acts of violence against another person. Nationally, nearly two out of three sexual assaults go unreported, in part because of the barriers many survivors know they will face if they go to the police. A product of rape culture is that so many survivors know they will not be believed and many acts of sexual assault are excused and normalized (like President-elect Donald Trump’s assertion that he groped women without their consent being excused as locker room talk).
The more than 4,200 survivors who have stepped forward, but have not seen any movement on their cases, deserve nothing short of an expeditious and compassionate process. That means six years of waiting for test results just doesn’t cut it.