Today, Representatives Mike Turner (R-OH-10) and Susan Davis (D-CA-53) introduced the Military Justice Oversight and Refinement Act of 2020, a bipartisan bill which aims to improve the military justice system.

“As co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, over the past decade I have fought to improve the justice system in our military for victims of sexual assault,” said Turner. “We have implemented radical and necessary changes in the past decade to prevent military sexual assault, and this year’s bill provides additional oversight so Congress can better evaluate how those provisions are working in action and what steps need to be taken to improve the system further. This bill outlines provisions aimed at increasing oversight, protecting victims, and standardizing sexual assault data sharing across the Armed Services. Under this legislation, the military justice system will have increased monitoring by required in-person oversight briefings. This bill also addresses military sexual assault prevention by standardizing sexual offense data collection definitions across military branches, and by creating policies separating the victim from the accused at our military service academies.”

“It is critical that Congress is able provide direct oversight of the strong provisions to end sexual assault put in place and to understand what policies are working and where we need to do better,” said Davis. “As a former chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, I worked in a bipartisan fashion to bring about the many reforms and protections for survivors currently in place. We need to be sure they are working as intended. Our servicemembers deserve a safe working environment based on a culture of mutual respect and a system that promotes swift justice and supports survivors. This bill will help us achieve that goal.”

The bill addresses the following issues:

  1. Required Briefings on the Effectiveness of Military Justice Reform – In 2019, there was an overhaul to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. This bill will require the Judge Advocates General of each Armed Service to report to congressional defense committees how effective the overhaul has been for their respective branches and provide recommendations for further improvement of the military justice system.
  2. Required Briefings on Special Victims Counsel Program – This bill requires Judge Advocates General of each Armed Service to brief congressional defense committees on the services’ progress in establishing the Special Victims Counsel Program. Such briefings will address any staffing needs/shortfalls to meet demand for counsels and the feasibility of expanding the program further.
  3. Separation Policies for Victims and Accused – Last year, we put into law provisions that allow alleged victims of sexual assault to transfer between military service academies to complete their degree. Under this legislation, military academies are required to develop separation policies under which an alleged victim and the accused minimize interaction, should the alleged victim choose to not transfer.
  4. Standardization of Sexual Offense Definitions – This provision standardizes definitions across all of the Armed Services when reporting data related to instances of sexual offenses.
  5. Guardian Ad Litem Program – This bill also includes provisions that will require armed services branches to assess whether or not they can establish a guardian ad litem program for military dependents living outside the U.S.

Read the Military Justice Oversight and Refinement Act of 2020 here.