Dear Virginia NOW,
URGE SENATORS TO ADOPT MILITARY JUSTICE IMPROVEMENT ACT
Senate Vote Soon – Key provisions in Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-N.Y.) bill, the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA- S. 1752), could be included as part of the must-pass National Defence Authorization Act that will be taken up in the Senate very soon. S. 1752 provisions which would establish an independent, objective and unbiased military justice process to better respond to the epidemic of sexual assault in the U.S. military will soon come to a floor vote in the Senate. Democrats are currently deciding whether to include the Military Justice Improvement Act in the DOD authorization bill.
Sexual Assault Incidents Increase – Military leaders have been claiming since 1992 that there will be “zero tolerance” of sexual assault, yet incidents of rape, sexual assault and unwanted touching rose by 35 percent in every branch over a two year period, with 26,000 incidents estimated for FY 2012. Yet only 3,374 sexual assaults were officially reported that year, with just 302 cases prosecuted and 238 convictions. Survivors – both women and men – say that they fear retaliation and do not believe that their complaints will be taken seriously. This pattern continues.
System is Not Working for Victims – A number of senators have previously said that they wanted to wait and see whether the military could take effective action to curb sexual assaults without the MJIA. Unfortunately, the MJIA failed to overcome a threatened filibuster in March. In the meantime, a recent independent analysis of the more than 5,000 official reports from FY 2013 shows that the number of restricted reports (to be kept confidential) increased – indicating a continuing lack of faith in the system – and the number of cases taken to trial hardly increased. (Note: the number of anonymously reported incidents as opposed to officially reported incidents is many times higher.)
Independent, Trained Prosecutors Needed – It is clear that the current system of military “justice” is not working and must be changed. Survivors deserve prosecutors who are specialized in these crimes and are independent from chain of command constraints. The Military Justice Improvement Act must be adopted as part of the National Defence Authorization Act.
TAKE ACTION: Urge Senators to Support MJIA Provisions in the DOD bill – Time is of the essence. Please call your senators now; your calls could make the critical difference. Here are the names of Democratic senators who should receive special attention:
|Sheldon Whitehouse (R. I.)||202.224.2921|
|Mark Warner (Va.)||202.224.2023|
|Tim Kaine (Va.)||202.224.4024|
|Joe Manchin (W.Va.)||202.224.3954|
|Angus King (I-Maine.)||202.224.5344|
|John Tester (Mont.)||202.224.2644|
|Bill Nelson (Fla.)||202.224.5274|
You can also call your Republican senators to make sure they are supporting the Military Justice Improvement Act. Call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask for your Senators’ offices. You may be asked just to leave a voice mail message by the receptionist.
YOUR PHONE MESSAGE: I am urging you to support inclusion in the National Defence Authorization Act provisions of the Military Justice Improvement Act, S. 1752, sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. This legislation would ensure an independent, objective and unbiased process for all complaints of rape and sexual assault. The military has shown the present system is not working as numbers of cases taken to trial has barely increased. Without the MJIA, survivors of military sexual assault will not have the protections they truly need.
Vice President Action