Earlier this week, an investigative article by ProPublica and The Texas Tribune published its findings on the pretrial confinement rates for sexual assault in the US Army. What they found was quite concerning.

The latest Manual for Courts-Martial defines pretrial confinement as physical restraint imposed by order of competent authority or depriving a person (soldier) of freedom pending disposition of offenses. This physical restriction will only be allowed if there is a probable cause, which includes reasons of (1) an offense triable by court-martial has been committed; (2) the person confined committed it; and (3) confinement is required by the circumstances.

The researchers have sorted through over 8,000 cases filed in the last decade to the Army’s general courts-martial and special courts-martial, which are commonly compared to felony and misdemeanor courts, respectively, in the civilian system.

Their extensive research revealed that people suspected of minor misdemeanors and drug-related crimes are “more likely to be placed in pretrial confinement than those accused of sexual assault.”

“That gap held up even when narrowing in on certain types of sexual assault cases that we suspected might be more likely to result in pretrial confinement.”

Unlike the civilian legal process, the military justice system adheres to the decisions of commanders—who are not necessarily required to be trained lawyers. They have the discretion to either detain soldiers while pending trial or not. This is also known as pretrial confinement.

In a separate article, the Texas Tribune explained that the system was created to help commanders keep their fighting forces in line, even as far back as the American Revolutionary period.