House OKs mandatory minimum sentence for sex assault convictions in military court
WASHINGTON — Angered by the epidemic of sexual assault in the military, the House on Thursday endorsed a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison for a member of the armed services convicted of rape or sexual assault in a military court.
By voice vote, the House approved the additional punishment as part of a series of steps lawmakers have taken to tackle the growing problem of sexual assault. The provisions are contained in a sweeping Defense policy bill for the 2014 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
“Being in a military uniform should not be a get out of jail card,” Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, said as the House began work on more than 170 amendments to the Defense bill.
Lawmakers hope to complete the measure on Friday but must reconcile it with a Senate version.
Congress is determined to shake up the military's culture and give victims of sexual assault the confidence that if they report a crime their allegations won't be dismissed or they won't face retaliation.
Last week, the House Armed Services Committee approved provisions in the Defense bill that included stripping military commanders of the power to overturn convictions in rape and sexual assault cases. The panel also voted to require that anyone found guilty of a sex-related crime receive a punishment that includes, at a minimum, a dismissal from military service or a dishonorable discharge.
Officers, commissioned warrant officers, cadets and midshipmen convicted of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy or attempts to commit those offenses would be dismissed under a mandatory minimum sentence. Enlisted personnel and non-commissioned warrant officers convicted of similar crimes would be dishonorably discharged.
Turner and other lawmakers argued on Thursday that they needed to add a minimum sentence to that punishment.
“Unfortunately under current law, if you commit a sexual assault on a base that's in a state that first-degree sexual assault has a mandatory minimum, you might actually avoid a mandatory minimum. And that has happened,” Turner said.
Several Democratic women opposed the step, arguing that while confinement was appropriate, Congress should wait for a Defense Department report on sentencing guidelines.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Medicare payments to tie doctor, hospital payments to quality rather than volume of care
- Senate on track to approve Keystone XL by week’s end
- Pentagon puts ‘fork’ in news about ex-captive Bergdahl
- Democrats, Republicans openly snipe about congressional Benghazi investigation
- Boehner acknowledges early House GOP ‘stumbles’
- High-value detainees allowed family calls
- National Weather Service to evaluate work after missed call on storm
- House sales tax proposal criticized as attack on states’ rights
- Thieves go for the gold in San Francisco
- Wisconsin’s Walker takes first step toward possible run in 2016
- Slain Ga. couple known for charity projects