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News: Protect Our Defenders

Friday, October 27, 2017 | Category: Military Justice - National

The "Protect Our Defenders News Blog" posts news relative to their day-to-day work with the "women and men in uniform who have been raped or sexually assaulted by fellow service members. Protect Our Defenders seeks to fix the military training, investigation and adjudication systems related to sexual violence and harassment--systems that often re-victimize assault survivors by blaming them while failing to hold perpetrators accountable."

They work with survivors, have an in-depth understanding of military process and procedure, and respectfully work with others to promote change from within. It is their belief that "it is a human right to work and live in a safe and respectful environment and fostering this environment within the military’s ranks will make the military more effective. Whether advocating for reform, filing a legal brief, providing legal support, or coordinating peer support for survivors; each project and activity manifests POD’s core values."

Nancy Parrish, Founder & CEO, is a human rights activist, philanthropist, and investor. POD President, Don Christensen, Colonel, USAF (Ret.) served as chief prosecutor for the United States Air Force between 2010 and 2014. He served as a trial counsel, defense counsel or military judge for every year of his 23-year career in the United States Air Force. His full bio is posted on the POD site.

Advocate for Military Sexual Assaults Back Clinton

Thursday, August 18, 2016 | Category: Military Justice - National

Nancy Parrish, Founder and CEO of "Protect Our Defenders," meets with the "Stars and Stripes." She shares insight on her personal and professional background and how it influenced her decision to champion "Protect Our Defenders" mission to end the epidemic of sexual assault and rape in the United States military. She received Atlanta's Georgia Institute of Technology "Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage" this year, which recognizes individuals "who act to improve the human condition, often in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges." Ms. Parrish donated the $100,000 prize to "Protect Our Defenders."

Pentagon Proposes First Changes to UCMJ in 30 Years

Monday, March 28, 2016 | Category: Military Justice - National

Two years ago, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the Department of Defense to review their Uniform Code of Military Justice when sexual assaults in the military gained much public attention and Congressional demands for reform. These are the first Pentagon-recommended changes in over 30 years with previous changes Congressionally mandated. More transparency is inherent in the revisions. Retired Air Force former top prosecutor Don Christensen, now president of Protect Our Defenders, the sexual-assault victim advocacy group, believes "that the proposal was an effort to abort even more sweeping changes, in particular stripping the chain of command from its prosecutorial and judicial role in the military justice system. The proposed legislation would leave military commanders to still determine which cases go to court-martial, what charges will be brought against a defendant, whether to cut a deal, and whether to grant clemency after conviction."

Department of Defense Forwards to Congress Proposed Changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice

Monday, December 28, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National


In October 2013, former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel directed the review of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and its implementation in the Manual for Courts-Martial. The proposal includes recommendations of the Military Justice Review Group. The Group conducted a detailed analysis of each article of the UCMJ, including the historical background of the UCMJ, current practice, and comparison to federal civilian law. The Department of Defense (DOD) forwarded their proposed legislation to Congress, including 37 statutory additions and substantive amendments to 68 current provisions of the UCMJ. The DOD’s proposal is the first comprehensive military justice reform package submitted to Congress in more than 30 years.


Military Injustice: Politics, Machismo, Structural Defects

Wednesday, December 23, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National

This opinion article highlights the vulnerability of the military justice system to inappropriate Congressional pressure. USAF Lt. Col. Rachel Van Landingham (ret.) notes that the "generals and admirals in whom the greatest prosecutorial and quasi-judicial authority is vested not only must be confirmed by the Senate for their next promotion, but three and four-star generals must receive Senate approval for their next assignment as well. This approval process starts, and can easily end, in the Senate Armed Services Committee." She suggests that Congress enact reform that instills transparency and accountability into prosecutorial discretion in the military vice unlawfully influencing individual cases.

Air Force Veteran Joins Columbia College Board

Monday, December 21, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National

Retired Air Force Lt General Richard Harding joined Columbia College’s Board of Trustees. He noted that while in the Air Force, he was most proud of his work on policies regarding representation for military sexual assault victims and laws of war. He currently lives in Columbia, Missouri.

McCaskill Discusses Sexual Violence Efforts with Fort Leonard Wood Leader

Thursday, April 23, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National

Russell Strand, the Chief of the Behavioral Sciences Education and Training Division of the Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood met with U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill to discuss strategies to combat sexual violence. He is a pioneer of victim-centered interview strategies allowing investigators to effectively collect evidence without re-traumatizing victims.

Changes to Sexual Assault Investigations

Monday, April 20, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National

Article 32 hearings was one of the most significant changes involving how allegations of sexual offenses are investigated. Article 32 hearings are the military's version of grand jury proceedings. These changes were included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal 2014, which took effect December 26, 2014.

Scripps Washington Bureau Wins Peabody Award for Military Sex Offender Series

Monday, April 20, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National

In 2014, Scripps national correspondent Mark Greenblatt released his 10-part "Under the Radar" (http://www.scripps.com/undertheradar) investigative series. After reviewing more than 1,300 military courts-martial cases, he 'uncovered at least 242 convicted military rapists, child molesters, and other sex offenders who had slipped through what a member of the House Armed Services Committee called a "gaping loophole" in the system. The flaw allows sex offenders to stay off public sex offender registries when they leave the brig, freeing them to re-offend.'

Suit Revives Controversy on Air Force Explicit Songbook

Tuesday, March 31, 2015 | Category: Military Justice - National

Susan Burke filed a new lawsuit seeking to stop the Defense Department from putting commanders in charge of sexual assault cases in their units. The case revives a 2012 controversy over a sexually explicit songbook of "misogynistic trash" that some fighter pilots allegedly still use.

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