A recent analysis by Protect Our Defenders found that black military service members face higher rates of military justice or disciplinary proceedings than their white counterparts, report Newsweek and USA Today. Using data received through Freedom of Information Act requests, the report reveals disparate rates at which white and black service members were court martialed or received non-judicial punishment between 2006 and 2015, with disparities increasing in the Air Force and Marine Corps. In the Army, black soldiers were 61% more likely to face court martial than whites and in the Navy, black sailors were 40% more likely to be court martialed. “The greatest disparities were generally seen for the most serious disciplinary proceedings,” the authors note, with black Marines being 2.6 times more likely than whites to receive a guilty finding at a general court-martial during this period.
These disparities exist despite what the report notes are the “equalizing factors” in the military, such as requiring recruits to have a certain level of education, administering drug tests, and providing service members with a steady income. In response to the findings, a Pentagon spokesperson said, “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.”