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Navy, Marine Corps to post offender list on homepages

Jul. 18, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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The Navy and Marine Corps will soon publicize a running list of court-martial verdicts for all offenses on their official homepages, in an effort to add accountability for the crimes. They are stopping short, however, of actually posting offender names.

Contrary to a CNN report, the posts on navy.mil and marines.mil will not be “sex offender lists,” although sexual assault cases will be included.

“To increase transparency of the department’s criminal proceedings, the secretary directed the services to begin publishing the results of all Special and General Courts-Martial, including sexual assault cases,” a Navy official said Thursday.

The effort is the latest drive to show that offenders will be punished, which victim advocates and officials believe is central to stemming the tide of sex assaults, but it must contend with a stark reality: No one was punished in roughly three of out every four Navy cases closed in the latest fiscal year. Of the 501 cases closed in fiscal 2012, only 99 cases went to court-martial and only 27 were handled via nonjudicial punishment. Sexual assaults can be difficult to prosecute for reasons ranging from a lack of evidence, to unfounded allegations or the accused was not identified.

The court-martial list is expected to be available by July 31 and will include details for each case such as the type of court-martial, rank of the accused, the crime they were tried for, where it was held and the verdict. While the intent is to draw “attention and show accountability,” another Navy official said, names are not being released so it does not impact future litigation or appeals.

The court-martial reporting is just one of several policy changes the Navy is rolling out today that focus on cutting sex assault in the ranks.

Other measures will tighten the sale of alcohol on bases, require officers or chiefs to patrol every barracks, hire more investigators and counselors, and publish the results of every general and special court-martial. Marine units and bases are not included in these additional measures.

Navy leaders say the barracks patrols, as part of a pilot program, have dropped sexual assaults by as much as 63 percent since they were instituted two years ago at Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. The Navy’s sexual assault experts are unsure exactly why the pilot worked, but they’ve decided the dramatic gains are important enough to try everywhere to stem the mounting toll of sexual assaults that concern sailors, lawmakers and the public. Sailors reported 773 assaults during fiscal 2012 — a 33 percent jump over the previous year.

Top personnel officials attribute the rise in incidents to sailors reporting assaults from fiscal 2012 and previous years, which they view as evidence that the Navy’s full-court-press for prevention training is encouraging victims to come forward. But on the other hand, they see that more efforts are needed, and they are under intensifying pressure from all sides.

The barracks patrols are required fleet-wide by Oct. 1 and will be run by first class petty officers and led by a chief or lieutenant, according to NAVADMIN 181/13. In addition, each barracks will be supervised by a resident adviser, who must be a first class petty officer or above and who will be trained to identify and break up situations that may lead to misconduct or sexual assaults.

“Victims of sexual assault must be assured that they will be supported, they will be provided options in accordance with DoD guidance, their allegations will be investigated, and that offenders will be held appropriately accountable,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jon Greenert said in the NAVADMIN released Thursday.

By mid-October, booze will no longer be sold from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., per a new instruction released Thursday. Mini-marts will no longer be able to sell distilled spirits, such as tequila or vodka. Alcohol and sales displays for it, like neon signs or life-size cutouts, must take up less than a tenth of an exchange’s retail floor space. And exchanges and package stores will sell single-use alcohol detection devices that sailors can buy to see how, say, three beers affects their blood-alcohol level.

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