WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today praised the Senate passage of S. 1917, the Victims Protection Act of 2014.
“With the passage of the Victims Protection Act, we have concluded the most comprehensive revision to military justice since 1983," said Inhofe. "Since 2009, Congress has enacted 47 provisions either directly addressing sexual assault within the military or instituting reforms to the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to improve how these cases are managed. These important reforms, along with today’s passage of the Victims Protection Act, will help to ensure justice for victims, improve the environment where men and women can serve together, and sustain the fabric of our Armed Forces, the chain of command. As these measures are being implemented, the Senate Armed Services Committee will closely monitor the performance of the Department of Defense and our military leaders."
On Jan. 29, 2014 the Response Systems Panel, established by Section 576 of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, issued an interim report concluding there is no evidence that removing authority to convene courts-martial from commanders will reduce the incidence of sexual assault or increase reporting of this crime in the Armed Forces.
Inhofe worked with SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) in the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act to include a package of 36 provisions to enhance sexual assault prevention and response, including the following:
- Requires a Special Victims’ Counsel program in each service to provide legal counsel to victims of sexual assault.
- Requires review by the service secretary of a convening authority’s decision not to prosecute certain charges of sexual offenses when the staff judge advocate recommends prosecution, and review by a superior general court-martial convening authority when the staff judge advocate recommends against prosecution.
- Amends Article 32, UCMJ, to change Article 32 proceedings from an investigation to a preliminary hearing normally conducted by a judge advocate to determine whether there is probable cause to prosecute a case.
- Amends Article 60, UCMJ, to limit the authority of court-martial convening authorities to modify the findings and sentence of courts-martial.
- Limits jurisdiction over specified sex-related offenses to trial by general court-martial and requires a minimum sentence of Dishonorable Discharge or Dismissal for conviction of these offenses.