U.S. Senator Tommy Tuberville has joined a bipartisan group of senators to support a bill that will change the way the military conducts sexual assault investigations and prosecutions. Tuberville, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel, 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), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), and 28 other Senators to introduce the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act.
According to the press release, the legislation “keeps the prosecution of sexual assault crimes within the military but moves the decision to prosecute to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors, and provides for several new prevention provisions such as 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.”
Tuberville stated, “Our men and women in uniform sacrifice every day to keep us safe, often working in some pretty unsafe places around the world. The last thing they should be worrying about is whether they’re unsafe within their ranks, and they certainly shouldn’t have to fear retaliation if they report a sexual assault. This bill is what happens when a bipartisan group of senators come together to get something done. I’m thankful that Senator Gillibrand and Senator Ernst have led the charge, and I’m glad to join my colleagues in support of this bill that will help improve the way the military handles sexual assaults so survivors can get the justice they deserve.”
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.
Kirsten Gillibrand stated on Twitter, “Here’s a bipartisan mission we can all support: Survivors of military sexual assault deserve justice. I’m proud to have @JoniErnst join me this week to introduce our new, improved bill to reform the military justice system and invest in prevention.”
Here’s a bipartisan mission we can all support: Survivors of military sexual assault deserve justice. I’m proud to have @joniernst join me this week to introduce our new, improved bill to reform the military justice system and invest in prevention. https://t.co/pYYUL6IRyA— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) April 27, 2021
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), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), 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).