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AG Nessel joins coalition to reform military justice for survivors sexual assaults

Dana Nessel announcing her bid for Michigan attorney general in 2017.
Dana Nessel announcing her bid for Michigan attorney general in 2017.

If passed, the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act would constitute the largest change to the military justice system in the last 70 years.

Attorney General Dana Nessel has joined a bipartisan coalition of 29 attorneys calling on Congress to pass the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act. If passed, it would constitute the largest change to the military justice system in the last 70 years.

The initiative is led by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. In addition to requiring more prevention training for military personnel, the legislation would ensure that decisions surrounding whether to prosecute sexual assault or domestic violence crimes are made by independent, professional military prosecutors, rather than the military chain of command.

"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 an 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."

Reports of military sexual assaults were up one percent in 2020, the Department of Defense receiving a total of 7,816. Sexual assault advocates are highlighting the numbers not shown in the data, as it's estimated more assaults occur but aren't reported for fear of retaliation. In many cases, the assailant is someone in the service member's own chain of command, which adds to the risk. When military sexual assaults' are reported, only around 9% result in a conviction.

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