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Military Legal Jurisdiction

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Foreman & Mary (2002) assert that capital punishment, also referred to as death sentence is a situation where an offender gets killed as a form of punishment for the crime committed, through a judicial process. Those crimes whose penalty amounts to death are known as capital offenses. In the military, all crimes including capital crimes are punished under the provisions of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ).  To date, there are fourteen offenses punishable by death. The death penalty can be imposed if the offender has done either of the following: misbehavior before the enemy, forcing a safeguard, aiding the enemy, espionage, sedition or mutiny, subordinate compelling, improper use of countersign, murder, rape and carnal knowledge, use of improper hazarding vessel. Some crimes are punishable by death only if they are committed during the times of war; they are only four and include: misbehavior of a sentinel or lookout, spies, desertion, assaulting or willful disobeying a superior commissioned officer.

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Statistics show that since 1916, only 135 individuals have been executed by the U.S Army.  It can not be conclusively ruled out but today, the military has kept away from the practice. In the year 1972, the armed forces court of appeals made a ruling that the military death penalty was violating the constitution of the United States of America (Bailey & Peterson, 1997). This serves as the first key reason why the military legal jurisdiction under UMCJ has for a long time avoided using the penalty as a form of punishment.  The argument here is that the act goes against the rights of humanity. The current death penalty in military system was established in 1984 but sine then; only 15 military members have been subjected to death penalty.

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