Talking Points In Support of Military Justice Improvement Act
Thank you for making your voice heard in support of the Military Justice Improvement Act
The Pentagon estimates that in 2012, there were 26,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact, sexual assault and rape throughout the U.S. military, up from 19,000 in 2010. Of those 26,000, only 3,374 were reported, and only 302 were prosecuted.
The bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act was written in response to the testimony of victims across the country who have described systemic fear of reporting the crimes committed against them due to the clear bias and inherent conflicts of interest posed by the military chain of command's current sole decision-making power over whether a case moves forward to trial.They deserve an independent and objective military justice system worthy of their service.
Even the current top military leadership admits the current system "has failed" and as Commandant of the Marine Corps General James F. Amos stated earlier this year, victims do not come forward because "they don't trust the chain of command."
In June, victims' voices were silenced when the Senate Armed Services Committee stripped the Military Justice Improvement Act from the National Defense Authorization. We can't let those voices be silenced again.
The facts are clear:
Of the Active Duty women who indicated experiencing USC and did not report it to a military Authority -- 66 percent said they felt uncomfortable making a report.
Of the Active Duty women who indicated that they experienced USC and did not report it, 50 percent believed that nothing would be done with their report, and 43 percent heard about negative experiences other victims went through who reported their situation.
Of those women who experienced USC and did not report it, 47 percent indicated fear of retaliation or reprisal as the reason for not reporting.
Across the services, 74% of Females and 60% of Males perceived one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault.
There is no accountability because the trust that any justice will be served has been irreparably broken under the current system where commanders hold all the cards over whether a case moves forward for prosecution.
It is time to restore that trust. It is time to move the sole decision-making power over whether serious crimes akin to felonies go to trial from the chain of command into the hands of non-biased, professionally trained, military prosecutors – where it belongs.
Under the Military Justice Improvement Act, the JAG making the decision to proceed to trial would be independent of the commander and any possible influence from within the chain of command.
This carefully crafted proposal supported publicly by 42 Senators from both sides of the aisle leaves many crimes within the chain of command, including 37 serious crimes that are unique to the military, such as going AWOL or insubordination, in addition to all misdemeanor type crimes.
We should follow the lead of our allied modern militaries, many of which have reporting outside of the chain of command, such as Britain, Canada, Israel, Germany, Norway and Australia.
What the strong and growing bipartisan coalition in support of the Military Justice Improvement Act has shown is that ending sexual assaults in the military by creating an independent and accountable military justice system is not a partisan or ideological issue, it is neither Democratic, nor Republican, it is simply the right thing to do.