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REPS. JONES, ESCOBAR INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO INCREASE TRANSPARENCY IN MILITARY JUSTICE PROCESS

August 31, 2021

Military Justice Transparency Act would require DoD to record and publish demographic data on individuals sentenced under the Uniform Code of Military Justice

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Congressman Mondaire Jones (D-NY) and Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (D-TX) introduced the Military Justice Transparency Act, legislation to require the Department of Defense (DoD) to collect and publicly report demographic data on individuals sentenced under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). Currently, the military is not required to collect or report such data, making it near impossible to identify or address racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in the military justice system. 

“Our nation was built on the principle of equal justice under the law,” said Congressman Jones. “But today, our military fails to live up to this basic promise. The startling lack of data collected or reported in proceedings under the Uniform Code of Military Justice means that we currently have no way of understanding where disparities exist in our military justice system or how bad they are. I’m proud that our bill will change that. By requiring the military to collect and publicly report this critical demographic data, we are taking a vital first step to ensuring the institution designed to uphold justice in our armed forces actually does so.”

“As Congress and the Biden administration work to reform the military justice system, it is critical for the Department of Defense to collect and publicly report data on racial and ethnic demographics to better understand possible disparities and bias in military justice cases,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “I am honored to co-lead the introduction of the Military Justice Transparency Act – which is key to delivering a system of justice worthy of our brave men and women in uniform.”

Specifically, the Military Justice Transparency Act will:

  1. Require the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Homeland Security (with respect to matters of the Coast Guard) to:
    1. record the race, ethnicity, and gender of victims and the accused for investigations under the UCMJ. 
    2. record the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals who received non-judicial punishment under article 15 of the UCMJ.
    3. record the race, ethnicity, and gender of individuals convicted in a court-martial.
    4. publish the recorded data in the annual military justice reports of the Armed Forces.
  2. Require the Secretary of Defense to provide briefings to the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
  3. Require a report from the Government Accountability Office on their findings regarding racial disparities in the military justice system.

About Mondaire: Mondaire Jones is the 34-year-old Congressman from New York’s 17th District, serving Westchester and Rockland Counties. He serves on the House Judiciary, Education and Labor, and Ethics Committees and is the first openly gay, Black member of Congress. A product of East Ramapo public schools, Mondaire was raised in Section 8 housing and on food stamps in the Village of Spring Valley by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to provide for their family. He later graduated from Stanford University, worked at the Department of Justice during the Obama Administration, and graduated from Harvard Law School. He is a co-founder of the nonprofit Rising Leaders, Inc. and has previously served on the NAACP’s National Board of Directors and on the board of the New York Civil Liberties Union. Most recently, Mondaire worked as a litigator in the Westchester County Law Department. In November, Mondaire was unanimously elected by his colleagues to be the Freshman Representative to Leadership, making him the youngest member of the Democratic House leadership team. In December, Jones was appointed a Deputy Whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and became a Co-Chair of the LGBTQ Equality Caucus. Mondaire was born and raised in Rockland, and resides in Westchester.

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