Military Justice Now!
He hit me across the left side of my face...He screamed at me and he grabbed my arm and he raped me,” said Coast Guard member Kori Cioca in describing her assault by a commanding officer. Following the attack, Cioca was told by her superiors that if she went forward with her case she would be court-martialed for lying. Her assailant received just 30 days of base restriction and loss of pay.*
In light of the recent chain of events that illustrates the epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. military, we’re standing up on behalf of a bipartisan Senate-House bill that can create transformational reform in decision-making, and sexual assault prosecution. We hope you’ll join us.
The Military Justice Improvement Act (S. 967), introduced by a group of bipartisan Senators and Representatives this week, would for the first time remove the decision on whether to take a case to special or general court-martial completely out of the chain of command and give that discretion to experienced military prosecutors for all crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going AWOL.
Our thanks to U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Mike Johanns (R-NE), Mark Begich (D-AK), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Mark Pryor (D-AR), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) as well as Representatives Dan Benishek (R-MI), Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), all of whom are standing up to express their commitment to reforming the military justice system and defending those who put their lives on the line to defend us.
“When top military sexual assault protectors are discovered to be perpetrators, then it’s obviously time to change the rules,” said Esta Soler, founder and president of Futures Without Violence. “Since 50% of victims report that the offender is of higher rank, and 23% of victims report the perpetrator is in their chain of command, we support this bipartisan, bicameral legislation because it insists on creating an environment that encourages survivors to report incidents and press charges without fear of retaliation.”
Many of our modern military allies have reporting outside of the chain of command, such as Great Britain, Canada, Israel, Germany, Norway and Australia. For example, the British military has prosecutors making trial decisions for all crimes through the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) within Britain’s Ministry of Defense.
*From the documentary, “The Invisible War.”