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Black Troops Twice As Likely to Face Discipline.

Black troops are as much as two times more likely than whites to face military punishment, according to ( a study released by Protect Our Defenders on Wednesday . 

Protect Our Defenders, an advocacy organization for victims of sexual assault and military justice, analyzed Pentagon data from 2006-2015 to compile the study.

"Over the past decade, racial disparities have persisted in the military justice system without indications of improvement," the report says. "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 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." 

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The military branches supplied Protect Our Defenders with differing sets of data, which makes comparing the punishment rates among the services difficult. The Air Force provided court martial and non-judicial punishmetn data from 2006-2015, whereas the Marine Corps produced guilty findings for court martial and non-judicial punishment for the same period. 

The research shows that the Marine Corps has some of the most noteworthy issues with race, especially in events where the harshest punishments were available. During an average year, black Marines were shown to be 2.61 percent more likely than whites to be found guilty at a general court-marticial, the military proceeding for more serious offenses.

The study also showed that black members of the Air Force were 71 percent more likely than whites to face court-martial or non-judicial punishment, discipline designated for less serious offenses. Black soldiers in the Army and Navy were 61 percent more likely to face court-martial than whites. Black sailors were 40 percent more likely than whites to be court-martialed. 

"From the findings of the study, race appears like it plays a big role, which is disheartening," said Don Christensen, president of Protect Our Defenders and a former top prosecutor for the Air Force. "Military leadership has been aware of significant racial disparity in its justice process for years, and has made no apparent effort to find the cause of the disparity or remedy it," ( he said in a statement given to The Hill on Wednesday . 

Christensen suggested that lack of diversity in the military may correlate to the racial inequality for black troops. About 78 percent of military officers were white in 2016.

Officials will review the report, according to a spokesman for the Pentagon. "It is a long-standing Department of Defense policy that service members must be afforded the opportunity to serve in an environment free from unlawful racial discrimination," said Johnny Michael, a spokesman for the Pentagon. "The department will review any new information concerning compliance with this policy," ( he said according to USA Today on Wednesday . The data indicates that guilty findings peaked in 2010, coinciding with peak deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq war zones. 

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The study released indicates the military is affected by the same racial issues that are present in the civilian police and the courts, said Michael Wishnie, clinical professor of law at Yale University. Because of the lack of comparable data from the services, the Pentagon cannot pinpoint systemic problems regarding racial equality, ( he said in a statement provided by Protect Our Defenders.

"This report cries out for action." 
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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Date:Jun 7, 2017
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