Only one lab in Georgia
The DeKalb County, Alabama Sheriff’s Office announced that they arrested a Cedartown man with drugs, a handgun, cash and more after a traffic stop by a National Parks Service officer.
According to the release, Deonquavious De’Shawn Williams, 24, of Cedartown, was charged with Unlawful Possession of Controlled Substance, Unlawful Possession of Marijuana 2nd, and Unlawful Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. He remained in jail following the June 2 arrest.
According to the release on the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office website, Williams was pulled over on Alabama Highway 35 in the area around Little River Canyon National Reserve by the NPS around 6 p.m. Three others were inside the vehicle with Williams when he was stopped.
The release stated that consent was given for a search and officers found 121 Ecstacy pills (MDMA,) along with marijuana, a handgun, digital scales and an undisclosed amount of U.S. currency.
Though with the picture included in the release, there was at least $2,300 shown recovered by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office and their Drug Task Force.
DeKalb’s Sheriff’s Office reported in their release that the investigation is still ongoing and additional charges could be pending.
Sheriff Nick Welden praised the cooperation between his office and the National Parks Service for the arrest.
“These narcotics could have been distributed to our young people in this county. MDMA is a dangerous drug that is easy to overdose on,” he said in the release.
How do you prosecute a criminal?
The answer may seem clear at first: collect evidence and witnesses to build your case. How- ever, when it comes to crimes of sexual assault, the criminal justice process becomes murky.
The Rape and Incest National Network reports that most rapists will never see the inside of a jail cell. Out of every 1,000 reported rapes, only five perpetrators will receive a felony conviction — four of whom will be incarcerated.
There are a lot of reasons why sexual assault cases can be difficult to prosecute.
Often there are only two witnesses to the crime — the victim and the perpetrator — and in some cases victims are shamed into not coming forward. The Sexual Assault Center of Northwest Georgia recently hosted a walk with the intent to reduce the stigma — in this case victim blaming and shame — that comes with sexual assault.
In addition to attempting to combat the barriers to prosecuting sexual assault, centers like the SAC have support services such as counseling and legal advocacy, but they also provide exams that collect forensic evidence for prosecutors. That evidence makes up a rape kit that is sent to a crime lab for DNA testing.
But what happens when there are so many rape kits to test that it causes a backlog? Many states have been dealing with this issue, and Georgia is no different. kits and issue the results in a timely manner, the GBI hired more scientists and more staff.
“We have a backlog that we’re still working through,” says Miles. “For us, it’s been two years of heavy emphasis. These kits have been a priority for our agency.”
Kim Davis, the SAC’s executive director, notes that some states have a second crime lab dedicated entirely to crimes of sexual assault or at least a special victims unit within law enforcement agencies.
“There’s only one crime lab in the state of Georgia and it’s not specified to just rape or just murder,” Davis says. “We’re looking at 6 months, sometimes a year before rape kit results come back. The earliest I’ve seen one come back was in three months.”
out of every 1,000 reported rapes, only five perpetrators will receive a felony conviction — four of whom will be incarcerated.
Before 2016, law enforcement officials decided whether a rape kit would be sent to the GBI. So, depending on what year the assault occurred, a victim’s kit could have never made it to the crime lab at all.
But that changed with the passing of SB 304 in 2016. Now law enforcement is required to send all kits to the crime lab. From the moment the kit is completed, law enforcement has 96 hours to retrieve it. Then they have 30 days to send it to the GBI.
“They’re not supposed to have a choice at this point. I can’t promise you they’re sending them to the GBI in every case, because I have a refrigerator full of evidence and it’s not just non-reports,” says Davis. “I also have a shelving unit that’s full of rape kits ... over a hundred victims didn’t just walk in. This evidence should not be here.”
However, Davis notes that the SAC and the law enforcement agencies throughout the Northwest Georgia region work well together to help bring victims justice. The SAC also provides training for officers so they can learn the best ways to handle sexual assault cases and treat victims of violence.
“I feel supported by law enforcement,” says Davis.
Part 3 of this series focuses on the difficulties of prosecuting sexual assault cases from law enforcement’s perspective. Look for Part 3 in Saturday’s edition of
the Rome News-Tribune.
Police seized MDMA pills, marijuana, scales, cash and a handgun during the arrest of Deonquavious De’Shawn Williams on June 2.
Deonquavious De’Shawn Williams