Congress is continuing its crack-down on the military's approach to handling sexual abuse cases. Last Thursday, a new bill was introduced to the House of Representatives to create a new Department of Defense database that would provide local police departments and communities with information on military sex offenders returning home. The bill is sponsored by Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado and Representative Jackie Speier of California.
The bill aims to correct an odd disparity between civilian sex offender requirements and those imposed on military personnel convicted of the same crimes. While civilian offenders are registered upon conviction or leaving prison, military members are compelled to self-report once returned home. As Stars & Stripes reports, personnel who fail to report are subject to a felony charge, but a recent Scripps news service investigation found that nearly 19% of military sex offenders are not recorded on any public registry.
The bill is already receiving support from advocacy groups and lawmakers who recognize that many sex offenders, when left unchecked, have significant repeat offense rates. This bill is not the first of its kind introduced this year: earlier in February, Senator Claire McCaskill, D-M.O. and Senator Richard Burr, R-N.C. introduced a similar proposal for an FBI database to the Senate.
TRANSPARENCY IN SEXUAL ABUSE CASES: A NEW MILITARY LAW PRIORITY
The future of this DOD bill is uncertain, but its proposal is just the latest in a string of new efforts aimed at providing both new standards and transparency to how the military addresses cases of sexual abuse. In late 2014, new protections were instated for witnesses participating in preliminary hearings, and earlier this month "good soldier" character defenses were barred from presentation during courts martial. This widespread change in military law policy is not only more closely mirroring how civilian law is conducted, but, in many cases, is creating a more impartial and sound environment for just decisions to be made.
If you are facing a sexual offense or misconduct charge, secure the representation of a military defense attorney who is knowledgeable of the rapidly changing landscape of military law. Attorney Joseph L. Jordan represents service members across the U.S. and worldwide, so call today to schedule a free initial consultation.