The Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) S.967, introduced by Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), will reach the Senate floor for a vote as soon as next week as part of the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act. MJIA, which has bi-partisan support, will take the decision of whether to prosecute sexual assault cases out of the chain of command and give it to independent, objective, trained military prosecutors.
We must act now. Email your Senators to tell them that we must change the current system of handling sexual assault cases. It is simply not working.
Reports of sexual assault in the military increased by a whopping 36% in fiscal year 2012. The vast majority of victims – 89 percent according to the Pentagon itself – do not report sex crimes at all. And one-half of female victims indicate not reporting sexual assault because they do not believe anything will be done by their commanders.
Under the current system, after a survivor comes forward, the commander of the accused decides whether to prosecute the case, whether to convene a court-martial, and whom to put on the jury. The commander will also decide whether and what kind of punishment is deserved – even though the commander often supervises both the victim and the accused, and 25% of women and 27% of men identify someone in their chain of command as the offender.
The current system has failed our service members, especially women. And despite talk by the top brass of a “zero tolerance policy,” sexual assault in the military continues to be a scourge that must end.
Email your Senator now. Let them know that everyone who makes the sacrifice to serve in our military should be protected from sexual assault and be provided with a non-biased, independent, and fair system of justice.