A damning new report about sexual assault cases in the U.S. armed services is the latest evidence that the military justice system is "fundamentally broken" and needs an overhaul, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) charged Sunday.
"The most recent press report shows just how fundamentally broken our military justice system is when confronting sexual assault," Boxer said in a statement. "It is long past time to take up and pass the Gillibrand legislation and end this miscarriage of justice."
The remarks came in response to a sweeping new Associated Press report detailing the aftermath of hundreds of sexual assault cases among U.S. military personnel serving in Japan between 2005 and the start of 2013. The report was based on records the AP obtained from a Freedom of Information Act request.
Among the key findings, the AP reported that:
• Of the 244 individual punishments detailed in the records, only about one-third included incarceration.
• The Marines incarcerated the most offenders (53 of 270 cases), while the Navy imprisoned the fewest (15 of 203 cases).
• Of 124 Air Force members accused of sex crimes over the span, 17 were imprisoned, while 21 received letters of reprimand as their only punishment.
The report is certain to set a fire under supporters of the Gillibrand bill, who, like Boxer, are pushing to shift decisions about whether to prosecute certain crimes from the military's chain of command to independent military prosecutors – a move the Pentagon and many in Congress have resisted.
The bill has attracted the public support of 53 senators – 44 Democrats and nine Republicans – but would need seven more to defeat a filibuster.
A Senate vote on the measure is expected this week.