SANE, Inc., a local non-profit organization that provides victim forensic medical examinations to sexual assault survivors in North Georgia, is part of a pilot program that will begin tracking sexual assault kits.
Jackson County and surrounding counties are part of the nonprofit group's service area.
SANE, Inc. is serving as the collection site in the pilot program in partnership with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the University of Georgia Police Department, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and The Cottage.
The pilot program, which launched Sept. 14, is part of HB 255 (the Sexual Assault Reform Act of 2021), a bill that builds on previous legislation requiring law enforcement to pick up evidence and submit it for testing in a timely fashion. House Bill 255 helps to track the kits.
Following a forensic examination, evidence is kept in a sexual assault kit. In the pilot program, each kit will have a barcode attached to the outside of it. The barcode will be scanned each time there is an update on the kit. (For example, the kit will be scanned if it is sent to a lab to be tested, if it moves hands to another law enforcement agency or lab, or if a kit is retained at a collection site or participating agency.)
Kit tracking will help to ensure that sexual assault survivors are kept informed of the status of their sexual assault kit, according to a news release about the program. It will also help law enforcement agencies to get accurate and timely information about the status of a kit.
The Georgia Sexual Assault Kit Tracking Website will allow survivors and certain professionals such as legal teams, labs and hospital personnel assigned to a case, to enter the serial number of a specific sexual assault kit and see the status and location of that kit. These measures will ensure that all investigative kits are tested and help prevent future backlog of untested evidence.
“We are very excited that SANE was chosen to participate in this pilot program,” said SANE, Inc. Executive Director Michelle Dickens. “Tracking sexual assault kits will give survivors more information and information is power.”