U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono from Hawaii has re-introduced a bill with 29 senators to change how the military prosecutes sexual assault.

“The Military Justice Improvement Act would put the decision to pursue these serious crimes in the hands of trained and professional military prosecutors, and ensure that survivors of sexual assault are not victimized again when they report military crimes,” Hirono said in a press release.

Hirono’s press release Friday comes two days after U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke out about the need for a pilot program for prosecuting sexual assaults.

Gabbard spoke in support of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act at an Armed Services Committee meeting Wednesday.

The Senate measure would allow more serious charges including but not limited to rape to be handled by judges who are outside the military chain of command. The idea is to give certain cases to judges with criminal justice expertise who can make independent decisions.

The number of female military service members who were sexually assaulted jumped 50% between 2016 and 2018 but fewer cases are going to trial, according to data from the Department of Defense cited by Hirono.

An urgent message to our readers . . .

It’s a critical time for our community as we all try to navigate unprecedented disruptions to our daily lives.

We want you to know that our nonprofit newsroom’s team of reporters, editors and support staff are committed to providing you with accurate and in-depth information on Hawaii’s important issues, including developments on how our island state is coping with this global pandemic.

Help ensure that our newsroom remains strong during this period when fact-based, trustworthy information is more important than ever. Please consider supporting Civil Beat by making a tax-deductible gift.

About the Author