African American troops twice as likely as whites to be punished by commanders

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According to USA Today, and a study was done by Protect our Defenders, and advocacy organization for victims of sexual assault and military justice, black troops, are far more likely than white troops to face court martials or other forms of military punishment.  In fact, black service members were two times more likely than white troops to face discipline in an average year.

“Over the past decade, racial disparities have persisted in the military justice system without indications of improvement,” the report states. “These disparities are particularly striking for black service members, who face military justice or disciplinary action at much higher rates than white service members in every service branch. In fact, the size of the disparity between white and black service members’ military justices involvement has remained consistent over the years and, in the case of the Air Force and Marine Corps has increased.”

A Pentagon spokesman said officials will review the report.  Johnny Michael said on behalf of the Pentagon, “It is longstanding Department of Defense policy that service members must be afforded the opportunity to serve in an environment free from unlawful racial discrimination.”

The study showed that the Marine Corps had some of the most significant issues with race and that in an average year; black Marines were 2.6 times more likely than whites to receive a guilty finding at a general court martial.  Researchers also found that black airmen were 71% more likely than whites in the Air Force to face court martial or non-judicial punishment.  Findings for the other services, the Army and the Navy, show disparities as well.  African American soldiers were 61% more likely to face court martial’s than whites in the Army, and in the Navy black sailors were 40% more likely than whites to be court martial.

Don Christensen, president of the group and a former top prosecutor for the Air Force, said that the lack of diversity in the military may play a role in unequal justice for black troops.  In 2016, approximately 78% of military officers were white, and 8% were black.

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