Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Call for reform of Alaska Code of Military Justice

The Anchorage Press has this op-ed urging steps to modernize Alaska's military justice system. Examples:
Those reforms need to include an update to the state Uniform Code of Military Justice, or UCMJ. Alaska’s UCMJ is decades out of date. It lacks punishment for perpetrators of serious crimes specific to the military environment. As a result, National Guard offenders haven’t been court martialed as they would have been if they had committed similar crimes while in the federal active duty. Other states have models for UCMJ reform—the legislature should consider these examples, listen to testimony from Alaskans, and strengthen our UCMJ.
One provision of the updated UCMJ should include penalties for individuals who violate sexual assault victims’ confidentiality. All too often, corrupt members of the Guard would violate assault victims’ confidentiality and then retaliate against victims. To prevent these abuses, the new UCMJ should have real penalties for violating victims’ confidentiality. Likewise there needs to be specific, stiff penalties for those that retaliate against whistleblowers who bring gross misconduct and criminal acts to light.
Finally, it is critical that there be a safe reporting system for sexual assault victims that is outside the chain of command. One of the primary problems with the National Guard crisis is that Guard leaders would not only violate victims’ confidentiality, but also, either by action or inaction, obstruct investigations by the authorities. A safe, confidential reporting system outside the chain of command would provide greater security for victims and ensure that investigators independent of the National Guard chain of command can investigate serious crimes without interference by corrupt leaders.

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