The racial bias in our justice system has been well-documented, with the country’s prison population disproportionately filled with minority inmates, and stiffer sentences for black and Latinx offenders. Now a new study shows that the U.S. military’s justice system isn’t much different, with black troops far more likely to be court marshaled or receive other disciplinary action.
Advocacy organization Protect Our Defenders conducted a study based on Pentagon data from 2006 to 2015, and USA Today obtained an advanced copy. The study found that black service members were punished up to twice as frequently as white service members. And it seems that rates of racial disparity have only increased in recent years within the Air Force and Marine Corps.
In the Air Force, black service members were 71% more likely than whites to face court martial or less serious disciplinary action, and black marines were 32% times more likely to be found guilty in a court marshall. The statistics weren’t much better for the Army and Navy, either. Black soldiers were 61% more likely to face court martial than whites in the Army and 40% more likely than whites in the Navy.
The reasons for the disparity also don’t seem much different than outside the military. Part of the issue may be that military leadership is predominantly white, with just 8% of military officers identifying as black. Add in that the military exists within the broader fabric of American society, and it’s not surprising that similar types of racial bias would occur.
The Pentagon has indicated it takes the study seriously, and a spokesperson released the following response: “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 department will review any new information concerning implementation of and compliance with this policy.”
(Via USA Today)