Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jurisdictional "black hole" on some U.S. bases

The Austin American-Statesman reports here on an obscure but important issue: what to do about sex (and other) crimes committed by minors on U.S. military bases over which the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction. One solution is a retrocession of authority to the state. That would permit local prosecutors to become involved. Dependents are not subject to the military justice system. Excerpt:
There is no clear authority for prosecuting juvenile crime on military installations. Military courts cannot prosecute civilians -- and the federal system responsible for civilian crime is ill-equipped to pick up most juvenile cases. 
Fortunately, it appears Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Republican U.S. Rep. John Carter of Round Rock, who represents parts of Fort Hood, have taken up the cause and requested that the Army, the Department of Justice, and state and local officials look at finding a solution. Republican U.S. Rep. Roger Williams of Austin, who also represents parts of Fort Hood, indicated to us that he would monitor the issue. 
The problem is not unique to Fort Hood, which is one of the nation's most populous military installations. However, other installations have worked out collaborative agreements with local prosecutors to take these sensitive cases. 
The scope of the problem is significant. A document obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows 670 reported incidents of juvenile crime from 2010 to 2015, including a dozen sex crimes. An internal Fort Hood legal memo obtained by the Statesman details more juvenile sexual assaults -- 39 between 2006 and 2012 -- resulting in no federal prosecutions and just a handful of cases referred to local prosecutors.

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