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Rape kits now being submitted to GBI regardless of investigation's status
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Ahead of a bill signed by Gov. Nathan Deal on Tuesday, some 160 rape kits have been sent by Gainesville and Hall County law enforcement to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Senate Bill 304, known as the “Compassionate Care for Victims of Sexual Assault Act,” required that law enforcement agencies that gather sexual assault nurse examiner kits submit the evidence to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation “within 30 days of it being collected.”

All agencies must create a list of evidence in possession on Aug. 1 and submit it to the GBI’s Division of Forensic Sciences by Aug. 15.

“Beginning Dec. 1, 2016, the division shall issue an annual report detailing the number of cases for which it has tested evidence pursuant to this Code section and the number of cases that are awaiting testing,” according to the bill.

In 2015, the Gainesville Police Department and Hall County Sheriff’s Office had roughly 160 kits that were in the process of being sent to the GBI’s lab.

Gainesville Police Sgt. Kevin Holbrook said Wednesday all of the kits have been submitted to the lab.

“All of our SANE kits have been submitted to the GBI for testing and will continue to be submitted regardless of the status of the investigation,” Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Deputy Nicole Bailes wrote in an email.

In March 2015, the GBI issued a bulletin alerting law enforcement agencies that it would accept and perform DNA analysis on the kits “regardless of whether or not a suspect has been identified in the investigation.”

The kits allowed for DNA profile information to be entered into the Combined DNA Index System, a criminal justice database.

Holbrook said the measure is “valuable” for law enforcement, as recent rape arrests have been made through matches and links found through CODIS.