Army more likely to confine soldiers on drug charges than sexual assault, probe finds

Military sexual assault
Military sexual assault(MGN / US Army)
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 3:15 PM EDT
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(WWNY) - The Army is twice as likely to confine soldiers before trial for drug charges than sexual assault accusations. That’s according to an investigation by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune.

The news organizations examined nearly 8,400 cases over a decade that went to the Army’s general court-martial and special court-martial, which are sometimes likened to felony and misdemeanor courts, respectively, in the civilian system.

According to the findings, the pretrial confinement rate for drug offenses is 18 percent, while the rate for sexual assault is 8 percent.

The decision to detain a soldier before trial is made by Army commanders.

The investigation also found that soldiers accused of other minor offenses such as disobeying an officer or damaging nonmilitary property have higher rates of pretrial confinement than those accused of sexual assault.

Army spokesperson Matt Leonard told Military Times that the rules governing pretrial confinement are “currently under revision.” He declined to provide details, referring questions to the Department of Defense. A DOD spokesperson said the military doesn’t have any “updates to announce at this time.”

Texas Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, a Democrat who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, is calling for hearings to examine the military’s pretrial confinement system.

“Pretrial confinement had not been on my radar, so it was really eye-opening,” Escobar said of the news organizations’ investigation.