GAO WARNS OF GENDER & RACE DISPARITIES IN ARMED FORCES CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
June 4, 2019
Are there disparities based on race, ethnicity, and gender within the military criminal justice system? According to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), there might be. Within its extensive report – titled “DoD and the Coast Guard Need to Improve their Capabilities to Assess Racial and Gender Disparities” – that was handed to the House Committee on Armed Services, the number of military criminal investigations, court-martial, military criminal defense cases, and convictions or penalties were totaled per branch of the Armed Forces and then sorted by gender and race.
The findings showed that black military members were much more likely to face investigation or be tried than white service members. It also appears that male service members are drastically more likely to be investigated or tried than female service members. In some branches of the Armed Forces, there were also noticeable disparities for service members who are Hispanic or of another non-white ethnicity, but the most disparity existed when comparing black service members to white service members.
According to the GAO’s research, black military service members may be up to 2.36 times more likely to be the target of a military criminal investigative organization (MICO), and about twice as likely to be tried. With the same data set, it was found that men may be up to 3 times as likely to be investigated and nearly 6 times more likely to be tried. The information was found by recording the percentage of investigative or trial incidents compared to the total service population percentage of each particular group. For example, black service members comprise 10% of the Marine Corps but 19% of investigations target them, creating a likelihood increase or disparity of 1.9.
Despite the significant disparities in some cases of investigations and trials, the GAO apparently did not find evidence that there was any noteworthy disparity when it came to convictions or penalties. Furthermore, the GAO intentionally differentiated a disparity from an act of discrimination, noting that the study did not conclude that discrimination was a driving factor behind the disparities. Lastly, the GAO’s study has been criticized for apparent hypocrisy, as the report claims the Department of Defense has poor recordkeeping and yet apparently not to the point that would make it impossible to conduct and complete the report on disparities.
BEWARE OF DISPARITIES & DISCRIMINATION WHEN FACING INVESTIGATION
The significant disparities faced by black and male members of the United States Armed Forces in terms of military investigations and court-martial are telling, regardless of the GAO’s backpedaling. It is clear that certain people are more likely to be seen as guilty before proven innocent as others based solely on their race or gender. Even if there is no major disparity in convictions or punishments doled out, the initial disparity means an unfair uphill legal battle exists for some and not others.
If you have found yourself targeted by a military investigation, or if you are already facing charges, enlist the powerful representation of Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan. As a former Army prosecutor, Attorney Jordan knows how the opposition in such cases moves and thinks. Using this insight and experience, he can better challenge charges or accusations that might be brought forth initially due to discrimination against a service member. The tenacious approach to casework he uses has allowed him to successfully represent more than 350 clients in the last 8 years, with more than 140 cases being tried to a verdict.