Joyful Heart Foundation Applauds Work of Georgia Legislators, Advocates in Passage of Comprehensive Rape Kit Reform

For Immediate Release: March 25, 2016
Contact: Melissa Schwartz,

NEW YORK – The Joyful Heart Foundation, a leader in the effort to provide cities and states with the resources they need to address their backlog of rape kits, today applauded the passage of SB304, which takes meaningful steps to address the backlog of untested rape kits in the state.

DNA evidence is an invaluable investigative tool. When tested, rape kit evidence can identify an unknown assailant, confirm the presence of a known suspect, affirm the survivor's account of the attack, connect the suspect to other crime scenes, and exonerate the wrongly convicted. Yet too often the decision is made not to test these kits. Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits sitting in police and crime lab storage facilities across the country. We don’t yet know the extent of the backlog in Georgia. But we are soon to find out.

Earlier this month, Joyful Heart sent a letter to Georgia State Senator Renee S. Unterman, who blocked comprehensive rape kit reform – passed unanimously in the House of Representatives – from moving forward in her committee, thus stalling the bill. Since then, Joyful Heart has partnered with a coalition of citizens, advocates and survivors to demand change and fight for reform. The Georgia legislature was able to make changes to the bill that removed the need for clearance through Sen. Unterman’s committee. The bill passed unanimously last night.

Below is a statement from Ilse Knecht, Director of Policy & Advocacy for the Joyful Heart Foundation:

“The Joyful Heart Foundation is proud to stand with Representative Scott Holcomb and our advocacy partners who fought for the passage of comprehensive rape kit reform in Georgia, to provide survivors of sexual assault with the justice they deserve. There is no excuse for complacency on the processing of rape kit evidence – and we join experts in calling for the mandatory submission and testing of every rape kit booked into evidence and connected to a reported sexual assault in every state.

“Every untested kit represents a missed opportunity to bring justice and healing to a survivor and increased safety to a community.

“We stand with every survivor who has taken the courageous step of reporting the crime to the police and endured an invasive examination in search of DNA evidence left behind by the attacker.

“Georgia has now joined the growing number of states that have passed laws requiring sexual assault kit audits or some type of mandatory submission guidelines. These laws will expand what we know about the true extent of the number of untested rape kits and will result in thousands of cases for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute.

“They will result in long overdue justice.

“Joyful Heart will continue to advocate for federal funds to help states implement comprehensive reform, and stands ready to provide assistance to any community working to address its untested kit backlog."

For background and further information on the rape kit backlog, go to:


The mission of the Joyful Heart Foundation is to heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues.

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