According to a new investigation by the Associated Press, the United State military system is ill-prepared and unequipped to deal sexual assaults on base, especially those involving children.
We’ll look at the story, specifically at Kentucky’s military bases and their problems.
The Military Has a Problem
Essentially, the military has a problem when it comes to sexual assault of children growing up on military bases in the United States. The problem is, the cases aren’t being pursued.
The Associated Press found that a number of cases make it to the prosecutor’s desk and then die there. This leads to a number of problems.
Because the sexual assaults are on military bases, it’s the military justice system that’s in charge. They are often under no obligation to report the crime to regular authorities. As these sexual assaults are then kept in-house, if prosecutors choose not to do anything about them, they will disappear.
Why Shelving the Crimes Is Bad
Most understanding people can immediately get behind why these unreported sexual assaults are a bad thing. There’s the obvious fact that justice is not done and there are no repercussions for the crimes.
But, the other issue delves a little deeper. If the sexual assault goes completely unreported, it’s often swept under the rug, meaning that the victim may not get any of the help they may need to recover. The same goes for the perpetrator.
Depending on the age and situation, the person accused of sexual assault may have issues that definitely need treatment, which may help them become a useful member of society. Not treating the situation, or having any consequences for these actions, can make a bad thing even worse.
What Consequence There Are Often Aren’t Enough
When there are consequences for these sexual assaults, they tend to be ineffective or again, make the situation worse.
Much like the Catholic church, bases aren’t above to shuffling an offender to another base or into civilian life. This often doesn’t solve the problem and ends up passing the buck to someone else.
Kentucky as a Sample
Look at the bases in Kentucky for example. There are incomplete investigations on at least 44 different cases of sexual assaults between children and teens, starting in 2007.
30 of these cases are located at Fort Campbell, and 14 at Fort Knox.
What Can Be Done about This?
If Kentucky is an example of the problem, it’s scary to think what other bases across the United States may also be like. Is there a way to fix this?
Currently, the Pentagon vowed to take “appropriate actions.” but in the meantime, there are other options. One such option is “retrocession.”
Retrocession is the process where the Pentagon would transfer the jurisdiction of the case over to local regular authorities.
Beyond that, many bases are trying to deal with the issue in their own way. For example, Camp Pendleton, the Marines’ combat training base in Southern California, has been transferring their sexual assault cases to San Diego prosecutors for a number of years. The problem is, defense attorneys can argue that it’s not the San Diego DA’s business to be prosecuting the crime in the first place.
On a practical level, this would affect budgets of the civil institutions that would have to deal with an influx of new cases. If convicted, money will have to be spent on treating and/or keeping that person in captivity.
What is clear is that there’s a problem. Now that there’s a spotlight on it, other solutions might present themselves.