McCaskill, Ayotte, Fischer Amendment Would Boost Already... - KOAM TV 7

McCaskill, Ayotte, Fischer Amendment Would Boost Already Historic Set of Reforms—New Provisions Aimed at Protecting Victims, Putting More Perpetrators Behind Bars



McCaskill,Ayotte, Fischer Amendment Would Boost Already Historic Set of Reforms—New ProvisionsAimed at Protecting Victims, Putting More Perpetrators Behind Bars

Senatorsintroduce amendment to annual defense bill that adds to list of historicreforms, increases protections and options for survivors

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senatorsand former prosecutors Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), andSenator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) this morning announced a new set of bipartisanprovisions to strengthen and augment the already historic reform package thatpassed the Armed Services Committee in June to curb military sexual assault.

"Thishas always been about a very simple concept—what can we do to make prosecutionssuccessful and what can we do to protect victims," said McCaskill, a formercourtroom prosecutor of sex crimes. "That's the only yardstick that matters tome."

"All along I have said that while we must deal with sexualoffenders, we can't lose sight of the victims. This amendment keeps thatimportant focus. These changes, both in our amendment and in this year's NDAA,are significant. But importantly, they are also serious and thoughtful – andthey are based on sound policy. Changes to the UCMJ should come after adeliberate and transparent process, with input from all sides. Thisamendment is the product of such an effort," said Fischer.

Theamendment includes a host of reforms, attached and available online HERE,and including:

  • Eliminating the Good Soldier Defense
    • Modifies the Military Rules of Evidence toprevent defendants from using good military character unless it is directlyrelevant to an element of the crime for which they are charged.
  • Allows Victim Input in Prosecution ofPerpetrators
    • Requires Special Victims Counsels to advisevictims of the advantages & disadvantages of a case being prosecuted in themilitary or civilian justice system and provides victims the opportunity toexpress their preference on where the case is heard, giving a victim a greaterdegree of control of his or her case.
  • Allows Sexual Assault Victims to ChallengeTheir Discharge or Separation from Service
    • Requires the services to set up a confidentialprocess that will enable a victim of a sexual assault who was subsequentlydischarged to challenge the terms or characterization of his or herdischarge—in order to take a retrospective look at possible instances ofretaliation.
  • Strengthens the Role of the Prosecutor inAdvising Commanders on Going to Court Martial
    • In the event a prosecutor recommends a case goforward and the commander disagrees, under the amendment, the case is kicked upfor review to the civilian service secretary, providing yet another level ofreview in these cases when needed. The NDAA currently requires the higher-levelreview only when there is disagreement between the commander and his or herlegal counsel/judge advocate.
  • Boosts Accountability of Commanders forAddressing Sexual Assault & Setting Appropriate Command Climate
    • Strengthens evaluations for commanding officersand the command climate they establish as it relates to allegations of sexualassault and the way victims of crimes are treated within the unit followingreports.
  • Extends Protections to the Military ServiceAcademies
    • Clarifies that all changes in the NDAA relatedto sexual assault prevention and response apply to the military serviceacademies.

TheSenators also pointed to newstatistics of drastically increased reporting as a strong indicatorthat retaining a role for commanders, while instituting historic, aggressivereforms, is the key for curbing sexual assaults.

McCaskill, Ayotte, and Fisher have relentlessly foughtto reduce sexual assaultsin the military. Earlier this year, the Armed Services Committee gave approvalto a series of aggressive, historic reforms addressing sexual assault, including bipartisan, bicameral provisions that willsignificantly boost accountability for perpetrators and protections forsurvivors.

Reformsincluded in that package would strip commanders of their ability to overturnjury convictions, install civilian review over decisions to not prosecutecases, mandate dishonorable discharge or dismissal for anyone convicted ofsexual assault, make it a crime to retaliate against victims who report asexual assault, provide a Special Victims Counsel to give independent legaladvice to servicemembers who report a sexual assault, and eliminate the statuteof limitations in these cases.

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