November 8, 2013
Sexual assault in the military is a critical problem which detracts from the readiness of America’s armed forces.
In a major new special report, Heritage Foundation legal expert and former prosecutor Cully Stimson presents the facts and outlines solutions.
Lawmakers and the executive branch have rightly focused attention on reports of assault and have proposed some thoughtful solutions. But the scheme proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would (1) weaken the military, whose mission is to defend the nation, and (2) ultimately harm victims of sexual assault.
Stimson makes the case for several specific reforms to address the problem, like changes to the JAG Corps. And he warns that radical changes pushed by some lawmakers could undermine the order and discipline that’s critical for the armed forces.
Improving the already outstanding criminal justice system in the military is a noble and worthwhile cause. That unique system of justice—similar to, but distinctly different from its civilian cousin—revolves around the concept of enforcing good order and discipline in the armed forces. Arbitrarily taking commanders out of the business of enforcing good order and discipline within their ranks is not the way to better the military’s criminal justice system. Such an approach is a risky proposal that will harm victims and severely undermine a commander’s ability to enforce good order and discipline.
Rather, the prudent way to improve the military justice system is to build upon the current system, adopt those policies that enhance the delivery of services to victims and defendants alike, and develop career litigation tracks for military prosecutors and defense counsel.
What do you think policymakers should do to address this important question?