In 2017, several online news articles highlighted a research study released by Protect Our Defenders (POD), a national advocacy group.1 The overall conclusion of the study report is that disparities exist within the military justice system that trend negatively for racial and ethnic minorities, African Americans in particular. Based on raw data obtained from the individual uniformed services via Freedom of Information Act requests, the report showed “for every year reported and across all service branches, black service members were substantially more likely than white service members to face military justice or disciplinary action, and these disparities failed to improve or even increased in recent years.”2 For other racial and ethnic groups, there was evidence they “may have higher military justice or disciplinary involvement than white service members.”3
1. See Rebecca Kheel, “Advocacy Group Accuses Military Justice System of Racial Bias,” TheHill.com, 7 June 2017; Safia Samee Ali, “Black Troops More Likely to Face Military Punishment than Whites, New Report Says,” NBCNews.com, 7 June 2017; Jeanette Steele, “Black Troops Are Being Prosecuted at Higher Rate than Whites,” San Diego Union Tribune, 7 June 2017; and Brock Vergakis, “Black Sailors More Likely than White Sailors to Be Referred to Court-Martial, Report Says,” The Virginian Pilot, 7 June 2017.
2. D. Christensen et al., “Racial Disparities in Military Justice: Findings of Substantial and Persistent Racial Disparities within the United States Military Justice System,” protectourdefenders.com, 5 May 2017.
3. Christensen et al., “Racial Disparities.”
4. “Understanding Implicit Bias,” Ohio State University Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity (2018); and R. Banks, J. Eberhardt, et al., “Discrimination and Implicit Bias in a Racially Unequal Society,” 94 CALIF. L. REV 1169 (2006).
5. B. Trachtenberg, “How University Title IX Enforcement and Other Discipline Processes (Probably) Discriminate,” Legal Studies Research Paper Series, no. 2017-22 (2017), 107–55.
6. Christensen et al., “Racial Disparities.”
7. Christensen et al., 11.
8. Christensen et al., 13.
9. Christensen et al., 13.
10. Christensen et al., 10.
11. Christensen et al., 11.
12. “DOD 2016 Demographics Report: Profile of the Military Community,” Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy (2016); and “U.S. Navy Demographic Data Report,” Department of the Navy (2017). DoD does not report Hispanic/Latino populations as a racial minority, but if this demographic were incorporated, the 31.4 percent number would increase.
13. The Department of the Navy does not designate Hispanic/Latino as a racial minority in its demographic statistics. Hispanic/Latino personnel may select any racial category, but then have the option to select a Hispanic/Latino in the ethnic subcategory.
14. Specifically, African American, Native American, Asian, and Hispanic/Latino represent 13.3 percent, 1.3 percent, 5.9 percent, and 17.8 percent of the U.S. population, respectively. U.S. Census Bureau Quick Facts, 2018).
15. Government Accountability Office, “K-12 Education: Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities,” March 2018.
16. Government Accountability Office, “K-12 Education: Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities.”
17. Trachtenberg, “How University Title IX Enforcement and Other Discipline Processes (Probably) Discriminate.”
18. Christensen et al., “Racial Disparities,” 15.
19. Christensen et al., “Racial Disparities.”