Armed Forces News

Black, Latino and male service members are the subjects of criminal investigations much more frequently than their white and female colleagues, according to a May 30 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The report also noted that the Defense Department neither collects nor maintains “consistent information about race and ethnicity in their investigations, military justice and personnel databases.”

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The lack of such databases makes it hard to make comparisons of disparities that could show overrepresentation by black, Latino and male service members in the military justice system, GAO concluded.

The agency’s analysis also showed that black, Latino and male service members also were more likely to be referred to general and special court martial than their female and white counterparts.

The report acknowledged that the Pentagon has taken some steps to evaluate such disparities, but that a more comprehensive assessment is needed.

“Doing so would better position DoD [the Defense Department] to identify actions to address disparities and help ensure the military justice system is fair and just,” the report stated.

The report offered 11 recommendations to remedy the situation, which addressed the capability of each armed service and the Department of Homeland Security to track and assess ethnicity data relating to criminal investigations and trials. It also advised the services to determine why disparities may exist, and track incidences of non-judicial punishments as well.