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Congressional Hispanic Caucus Endorses the Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act

Jul 19, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) has formally endorsed the Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, which would reform the military justice system by moving the decision to prosecute serious crimes in the military from the chain of command.

In addition to tackling the serious issue of sexual assault in the military and holding service members accountable for their crimes, this legislation would address systemic barriers to justice for servicemembers of color. Black and Hispanic servicemembers are more likely than white members to be tried in general and special courts-martial in all military services, even when controlling for attributes such as rank and education. This is across every service of our military. Moving prosecution decisions to professionals could help to reduce this bias.

“The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is proud to endorse the bipartisan, bicameral Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act,” said Chair Dr. Ruiz. “Congress must act to reform our military’s response to sexual harassment and abuse. By holding perpetrators accountable and protecting survivors from retaliation, this legislation will strengthen our nation's military justice system. I thank Senators Gillibrand, Earnst, and Grassley, Representatives Speier and Turner, and CHC Members Garcia and Escobar for their leadership and for achieving justice for Vanessa Guillén.”

“I want to thank the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Chairwoman of the HASC Subcommittee on Military Personnel, Jackie Speier, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar, and my colleagues for their unwavering support in seeking justice for Vanessa Guillen, her family, and all the victims of harassment and assault in the military and for their commitment to these reforms,” said Congresswoman Sylvia R. Garcia (TX-29). “Vanessa deserved more from the system that failed her, she had a bright future ahead of her, and this bill won’t bring her back but is a step closer in getting justice for her and improving accountability for our soldiers. As reports have highlighted, Black and Hispanic servicemembers are more likely than white members to be the subject of investigation for serious crimes and are more likely to be tried in general and special courts-martial in all of the military services, even when controlling for attributes such as rank and education. Ensuring an impartial and unbiased method of holding the accused accountable will improve the transparency of the military justice system and give victims a reason to trust the process. We must make sure we are protecting ALL of our soldiers, no matter their background.”

“SPC Vanessa Guillén’s memory sparked a national movement for justice and accountability to put an end to the rising epidemic of unchecked harassment and assault in our military,” said Congresswoman Escobar, Member of the House Armed Services Committee and Vice Chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee. “The Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, which I am proud to co-lead, delivers justice for survivors of sexual assault, harassment, and other crimes within our military and protects our men and women in uniform. I am proud that this bipartisan legislation has earned the endorsement of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus as we fight to ensure no family in our community endures the pain and horror the Guillén family has gone through.” 

The Vanessa Guillén Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act is the House companion to S.1520, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), which has 66 co-sponsors.

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The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), founded in December 1976, is organized as a Congressional Member organization, governed under the Rules of the U.S. House of Representatives. The CHC is dedicated to voicing and advancing, through the legislative process, issues affecting Hispanics in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Territories.