Black service members are “substantially more likely” than white service members to be punished in four out of the five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to a new study published by military advocacy group Protect Our Defenders.
Data obtained by the organization through the Freedom of Information Act revealed that black service members were as much as two and a half times more likely than their white counterparts to face court-martial or nonjudicial punishment in an average year. The disparity is notable, considering white service members make up the largest racial group in the military.
These results raise questions about about discrimination among military officials responsible for disciplining service members, Protect Our Defenders said in a press release.
Retired Col. Don Christensen, the group’s president and former chief prosecutor of the Air Force, claimed that military leaders are aware of the racial disparity and have done nothing to address it.
“Top brass has also vigorously opposed any suggestion that the commander-controlled justice system is hindered by conflicts of interest or bias and has gone to great lengths to tout the fairness of the system,” he said in a statement. “However, the military’s own data raises serious challenges to the idea that the system in its current form is capable of delivering impartial justice.”