Thursday, April 16, 2015

Alaska code of military justice revision deferred to next year

Despite a general consensus that the Alaska state code of military justice needs to be updated, there won't be a reform bill until next year. Alaska Public Media reports:
Lt. Forrest Dunbar, a judge advocate officer working on the bill on behalf of the Walker administration, explained to the committee that clearly defined criminal activity perpetrated by Guardsmen — like sexual assault or theft — would still be referred to civilian law enforcement. But he said there are instances where the code of military justice is more stringent than the civil code, and it would allow discipline within the Guard for some of the activities described in the federal report. 
“There was some behavior by Guardsmen that involved sexual relations with recruits. And the civilian authorities, for a variety of reasons, decided not to prosecute. For example, perhaps there wasn’t enough evidence, or it didn’t tightly fit the definition of sexual assault,” said Dunbar. “But there are military offenses that are broad enough where we could potentially pursue some of those offenders for things like dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming of an officer.” 
Dunbar added that the bill is expected to bring more order to the Alaska National Guard. But he said he could not definitively answer the most common question about the code.
“‘Had this leg of the stool been present prior to the activities that led to the scandal, could we have avoided those activities in that scandal?’ And the answer is: We’re not sure — there’s no way to know,” said Dunbar. “I think it would have increased the likelihood that we would have been able to bring good order and discipline to those units more quickly.”
Query whether the military justice process should be used to try deficient civilian cases. 

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