Dozens of Savannah rape kits remain unprocessed, law enforcement requests patience
Savannah, Ga. (WTGS FOX 28) —
At least 65 rape kits from Savannah remain on crime lab shelves, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Those unprocessed kits mean critical evidence is missing to complete local sexual assault investigations.
"It's not the fault of victims and it's not the fault of survivors that people exercise deficient behaviors and did not process those kits," said Kesha Gibson-Carter, the executive director of Savannah's Rape Crisis Center. She's calling out Savannah-Chatham Metro Police and the GBI for the backlog situation and incomplete cases.
"We understand that there are concerns about kits that are not being addressed," said GBI public affairs director, Nelly Miles. "But we just want to ensure the public that all of the sexual assault kits that are coming into the lab are going to be worked eventually."
Miles says the passing of Senate Bill 304 led to Georgia crime labs getting slammed with rape kits. The law now requires law enforcement to submit rape kits to the GBI within 30 days of being collected. But processing each kit can be a lengthy 45-day operation and come at a minimum $200 price tag.
"These kits did not accrue themselves over night, so obviously we can't be expected to work them overnight," Miles said.
But, Gibson-Carter said she isn't buying it.
"You can't tell me that you need more time. You can't tell me that it's going to take time. That's not something that we want to tell our survivors," she said.
Miles says legislature is adding more funding to the GBI's processing budget and that the GBI's crime labs working on improving their testing operations. Until then, Gibson-Carter says she'll continue fighting for change.
"I am less inclined to engage and be accepting of excuses that are consistent with, 'We have too many kits. We are overwhelmed.' You know what, figure it out,'" she said.
FOX 28 reached out to Savannah-Chatham Metro Police multiple times to discuss the rape kit process. The Public Information Office has yet to make anyone available for an interview.