Mark Kelly joins other leaders to change sexual assault investigations in the military

Photo credit: Mark Kelly

U.S. Senator Mark Kelly has joined a bipartisan group of senators to support a bill that will change the way the military conducts sexual assault investigations and prosecutions. Kelly joined U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and 29 other Senators to introduce the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act.

According to Kelly’s press release, the legislation will0 “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 more and better training for commanders and increased physical security measures, while ensuring that commanders still have the ability to provide strong leadership and ensure a successful command climate.”

Kelly stated, “We owe it to our service members to address head on the problem of sexual assault in the military. Every service member should expect to be treated with respect by their peers, by their commanding officers, and, should it be necessary, by the military justice system. These bipartisan reforms will move us closer to making that a reality.”

The bill was introduced in 2019, but did not receive a vote.

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.
  • Ensure the Department of Defense 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.

Kelly posted on Twitter, “The data is clear: Sexual assault in the military is getting worse- and it’s our responsibility to ensure survivors of sexual assault receive the respect and justice they deserve.”

The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Angus King (I-ME), Michael Braun (R-IN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Rand Paul (R-KY), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bob Casey Jr. (D-PA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Gary C. Peters (D-MI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).