LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined on Thursday a bipartisan coalition of 29 attorneys general calling on Congress to pass the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act of 2021.
The legislation would reshape the way the U.S. military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault, according to a news release.
“As we honor our brave service members this Veterans Day, I am proud to stand with my colleagues in urging Congress to pass this act – one that is long overdue,” Nessel said. “While I recognize it will not completely erase the risks of retaliation for reporting as assault, nor can it guarantee that every assault is prosecuted, this legislation properly addresses contributing factors to underreporting and under-prosecuting. Those who risk everything to protect this nation should not also suffer silently in instances of sexual violence. We owe survivors proper channels to report and must strengthen accountability against perpetrators.”
In a letter to Congress, the coalition highlighted the need to address “longstanding problems in underreporting and prosecuting sexual assaults in the military.”
The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act would professionalize the military’s prosecution of serious crimes like sexual assault.
It also addresses widespread reluctance to report sexual assault due to bias in the military chain of command’s power to decide whether cases move forward to a trial. The act would instead ensure that decisions about whether to prosecute sexual assault or domestic violence crimes are made by independent, trained, professional military prosecutors while leaving uniquely military crimes within the chain of command.
Additionally, the act requires increased sexual assault prevention training for military personnel, as well as added instruction for prosecutors on the proper conduct, presentation and handling of sexual assault and domestic violence cases.
If passed, the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act would be the largest change to the military justice system in the past 70 years, according to the coalition.