Brickbat: Guilty Until Proven Innocent


As part of his retirement from the U.S. Army, Sgt. Major Eriq Brown was screened for disability benefits. That's when a psychologist asked him if a pending criminal charge was causing him emotional issues. Brown was confused: He wasn't facing any charges. It turns out that another soldier had accused him of assault two years earlier. An investigation found no evidence to support that claim, and in fact it found that Brown wasn't even on post on the day in question, but the allegation remained in his record. Brown is one of thousands of military members who has a criminal record despite never being convicted of or even charged with a crime. A Department of Defense policy requires military investigators to put someone's name into the FBI's National Crime Information Center database if they have "credible information" that the person committed a crime. Someone filing a report is considered "credible information." The service member doesn't know his name has been entered until someone does a criminal background check, and the military is reluctant to remove the name even if charges are never filed.