I'm part of a bipartisan effort to create an independent military justice system for military victims of sexual assault. The effort is to try to pass this reform when the annual National Defense Authorization Act comes to the Senate floor, and that could be yet this month. The status quo isn't working, and it needs to be shaken up.
I'm an original cosponsor of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Military Justice Improvement Act, S.967. The legislation would remove prosecutorial decisions from the chain of command. It would give the offices of the military chiefs of staff authority and discretion to establish courts, empanel juries, and choose judges to hear sexual assault cases in military courts.
This legislation is about keeping the focus on the mission of the military. Failing to crack down on a corrosive culture or on individuals who use sexual violence as a means of personal power will create lingering institutional problems that jeopardize morale and impact recruitment and retention of troops. With this bipartisan bill, we are addressing a law enforcement issue. We want to give members of the Armed Forces more confidence in the military system of justice, including protection from sexual violence and prosecution for those who violate the rule of law.