Service members facing trial by court-martial and ordered into pretrial confinement increasingly find themselves in civilian facilities due to the lack of a local military confinement facility. This can happen post-trial as well, when a convicted service member awaits transfer to a military facility. A recent article in the Army Lawyer provides a comprehensive overview of the issues that this hybrid system poses:

Marc Wm. Zelnick, Managing an Installation’s Utilization of a Civilian Confinement Facility: A Primer, Army Law., December 2014, at 6 (available here).

3 Responses to “Scholarship Saturday: Utilizing civilian confinement facilities”

  1. Former DC says:

    Interesting article. This is, unfortunately, an all-too-common problem. I really take issue with only one point: the suggestion that there is a legitimate reason why a substandard and known problem CCF would still be used. With all due respect to the author, that sounds like he is suggesting that an officer could knowingly and willingly violate the Code and applicable regulations, which itself, to use the quaint phrase of the Code, is “punishable as a court-martial may direct”. It seems to me that an officer who has actual knowledge that a particular CCF is actually in violation of the applicable regulations is prohibited by both law and his duties as an officer from utilizing that facility until the problems are corrected – even if that means transporting a detainee a long distance to an appropriate facility or foregoing pretrial confinement. As judge advocates, we have a duty to uphold the law, regardless of convenience. Given the otherwise well written nature of this article, I believe the aforementioned suggestion was inadvertent. 

  2. Saul Goodman says:

    CCFs are bad idea.  Closing/consolidating brigs was another bad idea.  I don’t know if the horse came before the cart on this one, but the hassles of confining someone (pretrial or post-trial) are a factor that commanders use to forgo courts-martial, especially for SPCM level offenses.  A brig stay of 45 days is just not worth the hassle for commanders that are not located on one of the few installations with a brig.  Or with a CCF, once the commander gets burned once on an Art 13 motion, he won’t confine again.  And we wonder why we are lacking experienced TC and DC – because these low level, short confinement cases aren’t around anymore to cut our teeth on.  We NJP and chapter them out.
    My bottom line – if the JAG Corps want to save court-martial practice, they have to make it easier – cradle to grave – for commanders to use the system.  This is not a friendly system from investigating through confinement through post-trial.   And I am not sure this article makes it any easier to confine someone but merely highlights all the ways you can get burned by using a CCF.

  3. RKincaid3 (RK3PO) says:

    Ah yes!  Memories (flashbacks, really) of several of my clients’ tales of experiences with the Bell County Jail near Ft Hood, TX, where scabies outbreaks and dirty underwear being issued as clean (among many other violations of the standards of care due to Soldiers no matter what the charges, and violations of basic human decency) were all too-substantiated practices of the local civilian facility, the source of innumerable 15-6 investigations and a tremendous number of Art 13 motions plaguing courts-martial practice there back on 2003/2004.
    Query: if the military is so valuable to the nation, how come the military budget keeps getting cut so that we can no longer discipline our town troops an an appropriate manner, the pay and allowances keep getting cut (BAH was just reduced–Thanks, Congress!!) while effective and affordable weapons systems like the A-10 are cancelled to pay for billions wasted on the problem plagued F-35 and buying tanks that even the Army says it doesn’t need (decisions made not because they are important to national defense–but because those programs mean jobs, money and votes for congressional districts)?
    Oh right…the leadership vacuum in the nations military and military halls of power.  Silly me.  Scabies and dirty underwear are a small price to pay for unwise budget cuts–especially when one considers that avoiding either of those problems is easy if one just doesn’t commit an offense leading to confinement.  
    Oh–wait!  That presumes that Congress hasn’t criminalized just about everything as a sex offense–including a commander’s exercise of discretion in a way that is disfavored by Congress.
    Sigh…not silly me.  Dumb me!!