Establishing Sentencing Guidelines for Military Courts-Martial
Air Command and Staff College, Air University Maxwell Air Force Base United States
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The debate over the adequacy of the militarys sentencing procedures is not new. It has been a contentious issue since the first Manual for Courts-Martial MCM was published in 1951. Recent negative attention on the militarys handling of sexual assault cases has brought the military justice system once again under scrutiny and rekindled arguments for mandatory minimum sentences, judge-only sentencing, adoption of the federal sentencing standards, and establishment of military sentencing standards. These arguments present provocative cases, but I believe the establishment of UCMJ-centric military sentencing guidelines, to be applied by judges only, is the best option to address sentence disparity because it relieves the administrative burden of keeping military panels for the sentencing phase and aligns the military criminal justice system more closely to the federal procedures, while retaining a distinct military process that fits the unique nature of military service.