WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) today joined Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in introducing the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act. This bipartisan legislation would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes by moving the decision to prosecute from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. The bill also provides for several new prevention provisions such as more and better training for commanders and increased physical security measures, while ensuring that commanders still have the ability to provide strong leadership and ensure a successful command climate.

“While they are in service of our nation, no service member should ever live in fear of being attacked by someone they are training or fighting with or feel as though they cannot report sexual assault incidents without facing retaliation,” said Senator Capito. “I am proud to join this bipartisan group of senators to introduce this legislation that takes clear steps to provide members of the military with a peace of mind by moving sexual assault cases outside of the chain of command to trained prosecutions. In addition, this legislation will train and educate service members on sexual assault and will make security improvements on bases, which will help ensure the safety of those in uniform. With West Virginia's strong history of military service, caring for America's service members could not be more important, and the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act is a step in the right direction in doing so.”

The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act would take critical steps to create a more professional and transparent military justice system for serious crimes—including rape and sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, child endangerment, child pornography, and negligent homicide—and address the need for sexual assault prevention that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) has not implemented. 

Specifically, the legislation would: 

Move the decision on whether to prosecute serious crimes to independent, trained, and professional military prosecutors, while leaving misdemeanors and uniquely military crimes within the chain of command. By moving this work off of the commander’s plate, it will empower commanders to focus on mission critical activities—while specifically preserving the authorities that a commander needs to provide strong leadership and a successful command climate.

  • Ensure the DoD supports criminal investigators and military prosecutors through the development of unique skills needed to properly handle investigations and cases related to sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Require the Secretary of Defense to survey and improve the physical security of military installations—including locks, security cameras, and other passive security measures—to increase safety in lodging and living spaces for service members.
  • Increase, and improve training and education on military sexual assault throughout our armed services. This training would help shift the culture in the military and ensure that the armed services can enforce a no-tolerance zone for sexual assault and other grievous crimes.

In addition to Senators Capito, Ernst, and Gillibrand, this legislation is cosponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Angus King (I-Maine), Michael Braun (R-Ind.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Tammy Duckworth (D- Ill), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey Jr. (D-Penn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.),Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Gary C. Peters (D-Mich.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.).

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