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The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, S. 1520, would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes by moving the decision to prosecute from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. It also provides for several new prevention provisions such as increased and improved training for commanders and additional physical security measures, while ensuring that commanders still have the ability to provide strong leadership and maintain a successful command climate.
The bipartisan military justice reform bill would take critical steps to create a more professional and transparent military justice system for serious crimes—including rape and sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, child endangerment, child pornography, and negligent homicide—and address the need for sexual assault prevention that the DoD has not implemented. Specifically, the legislation would:
- Move the decision on whether to prosecute serious crimes to independent, trained and professional military prosecutors, while leaving misdemeanors and uniquely military crimes within the chain of command. By moving this work off the commander’s plate, it will empower commanders to focus on mission-critical activities—while specifically preserving the authorities that a commander needs to provide strong leadership and a successful command climate.
- Ensure the DoD supports criminal investigators and military prosecutors through the development of unique skills needed to properly handle investigations and cases related to sexual assault and domestic violence.
- Require the Secretary of Defense to survey and improve the physical security of military installations–including locks, security cameras and other passive security measures–to increase safety in lodging and living spaces for service members.
- Increase and improve training and education on military sexual assault throughout our armed services. This training would help shift the culture in the military and ensure that the armed services can enforce a no-tolerance zone for sexual assault and other grievous crimes.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand [D-NY] first introduced the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act in 2013 and has worked on it shoulder-to-shoulder with Senator Chuck Grassley [R-IA] for years. However, since the initial introduction, unrestricted reports of sexual assaults in the military have doubled, while the rate of prosecution and conviction has been halved.
Sen. Gillibrand introduced the new Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act to the Senate on April 29, 2021, and it is co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 42 senators. Please use our pre-drafted letter to urge your senator to co-sponsor and support S. 1520. If they have already sponsored or co-sponsored the bill, you can send a message of thanks.