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***STATEMENT*** Congress Demands Answers on Substantial and Persistent Racial Disparities in US Military Justice System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 14, 2017

*** STATEMENT ***

CONGRESS DEMANDS ANSWERS ON SUBSTANTIAL AND PERSISTENT RACIAL DISPARITIES IN THE US MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM

House Armed Services Committee Directs Government Accountability Office to Investigate After Protect Our Defenders Reveals Black Service Members Are More Likely to Face Military Justice and Disciplinary Action Than White Service Members

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Armed Services Committee has directed the United States Comptroller General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to submit a report on racial disparity in the military justice system. The requirement comes after Protect Our Defenders (POD) released a report last month,  which found for every year reported and across all service branches, black service members were substantially more likely than white service members to face military justice or disciplinary action. These disparities have not improved, and in some cases have increased, in recent years.

The Committee inserted the requirement in the National Defense Autorization Act for FY18 as an “Item of Special Interest.” The Comptroller General is directed to report to the Committee on how the military tracks convictions based on race, provide recommendations for improving data collection and to assist the Committee in determining whether there is a racial disparity in the prosecution of cases in the military. The requirements are based on POD’s report.

Today, Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:

“Protect Our Defenders is heartened that Congress has recognized the rampant disparities faced by black service members and has taken an important step in working to ensure that all service members, regardless of race, are treated fairly and equally while serving our country. We extend our utmost thanks to Congressman Robert Brady for his leadership on this issue and ensuring the troubling matter was inserted as an Item of Special Interest.”

POD’s report is based on data from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests submitted last year by POD to each military service branch seeking demographic information on military justice and disciplinary proceedings. POD received responses from four of the service branches, and analyzed this previously unpublished data to assess the prevalence of racial and ethnic disparities within the military’s disciplinary and criminal justice systems.

Last month, top White House aide Omarosa Manigault visited the Pentagon to obtain more information on POD’s report, and received a briefing on the issue.

Read POD’s 1-Page report summary with key findings:
http://www.protectourdefenders.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Disparity-Report-One-Pager.pdf

Read POD’s full disparity report:
http://www.protectourdefenders.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Report_20.pdf

USA Today: Black troops as much as twice as likely to be punished by commanders, courts
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/07/black-troops-much-twice-likely-punished-commanders-courts/102555630

NBC News: Black Troops More Likely to Face Military Punishment Than Whites, New Report Says
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/black-troops-more-likely-face-military-punishment-whites-new-report-n769411

[VIDEO] PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton (MSNBC): Is the Military Racist?
http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc-news/watch/is-the-military-racist-964887619668

USA Today: White House aide Omarosa Manigault tackling Pentagon racial bias in military justice
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/06/30/white-house-aide-omarosa-manigault-gets-pentagon-brief-racial-bias/442498001

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to ending the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive misogyny, sexual harassment, and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including service members, veterans, and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors are provided a safe, respectful work environment and have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.

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