Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously passed her amendment banning anyone convicted of a felony sexual assault from joining our armed forces. The policy was put in place administratively by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009, but Senator Boxer’s amendment would codify the ban into law, making the change permanent.
“We owe it to our brave service members to do everything we can to protect them from sexual assault,”Senator Boxer said. “The Senate’s action today will strengthen the military’s zero tolerance policy for these heinous acts of violence by permanently banning those convicted of felony sexual assault from serving in our military.”
In 2011 alone, 3,192 incidents of sexual assault were reported in the military. According to the Department of Defense, this figure may significantly underestimate the actual number of sexual assaults and the actual number may be closer to 19,000 annually.
In addition, service members who receive a conduct waiver—including a sexual assault waiver—are more likely to commit a sexual assault. According to a report recently published by the Army, soldiers that entered the military with conduct waivers were more likely to commit a felony sex crime while on active duty than soldiers who entered the military without waivers.