MCAP, civilians be warned

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
In the news, people may hear about how service members are prosecuted under the Uniform Code of Military Justice for misconduct; however, many people may not know that civilians are also subject to a form of administrative review.

The Misawa Conduct Adjudication Program is a voluntary forum that is used to resolve issues of civilian misconduct. MCAP is an effective alternative to barring a person from base, which is reserved for the most extreme cases of misconduct, said Capt. Christopher Stein, 35th Fighter Wing assistant staff judge advocate. The program provides civilian and government employees and military and civilian dependants the opportunity to explain the circumstances of their misconduct and provide input, receive immediate feedback.

Although the MCAP setting emulates the civilian court system, detainment or jail then is not a possible sentence.

"It's not a court proceeding - it's unrelated to the military justice system or any other type of civilian justice system," said Captain Stein. "It's purely administrative and purely an internal way that the base deals with misconduct. So, rather than kicking someone off the base, we give people an opportunity to earn the right to stay on base by doing things like community service, writing letters of apology and seeking counseling, if that's appropriate for them."

MCAP is a wing program, but the authority is delegated to the 35th Mission Support Group deputy commander. The preferred location for MCAP hearings is in the 35th Fighter Wing legal office's court room because it lends an air of responsibility and authority, said Captain Stein a native of Henderson, Nev.

"The MCAP hearing is for clarification of an issue," said Staff Sgt. Daniel Vargas, 35th FW civil law paralegal and MCAP manager. "If the civilian misconduct authority believes that a hearing is required to shed light on an issue; then the CMA may request that all parties involved in the case appear for testimony."

The MCAP authority has the power to make a ruling on a case without having a hearing, added Sergeant Vargas, a native of Sacramento, Calif.

Fighter Wing Instruction 51-901, Misawa Conduct Adjudication Program, outlines the process in detail.

First, the MCAP manager reviews the security forces blotter for any civilian misconduct and establishes a case file. Within five duty days of an incident, the MCAP manager notifies the defendant or sponsor's unit that MCAP is considering the incident and notifies them of their options. At this time, the defendant may request an opportunity to present information personally to the CMA.

Next, within seven duty days of the incident, the MCAP manager starts inquiries for background information to assist the CMA in making an informed decision. The defendant, with in the same seven-day window, has the opportunity to write a response to help the CMA make an informed decision.

Finally, after the CMA has reviewed all the information, they determine if the defendant is responsible for the misconduct or not, and the defendant is informed of the CMA's decision. If the CMA determines the individual committed an act of misconduct, the CMA uses the punishment matrix as a baseline from which to determine what punishment, if any, is required.

"The most common punishments are community service, written apologies to the people or agencies that experienced the misconduct and privilege suspension from the Army, Air Force Exchange Service and 35th Force Support Squadron facilities," said Captain Stein. "The MCAP authority can take more unique actions, if warranted, on special cases, to include barmenta barment recommendation to the wing commander, if it's the best way to resolve a situation."

The possible punishments that a offender may be subject to are also found in 35th FWI 51-901. Corrective actions available to the CMA include, but are not limited to, no action, oral counseling, letter of admonishment or warning and written essay.

Some of the more harsh punishments a offender may be subject to are, suspension or revocation of installation driving privileges, termination of military family housing, curfew, financial restitution and barment from base. The failure of the defendant to comply with the imposed punishments may be considered new misconduct.

"Since 2006, Misawa has had approximately 150 MCAP cases," said Sergeant Vargas. "MCAP is an administrative processes not a criminal one. You don't have to participate in the MCAP, it is voluntary. But, without your participation you can be barred from the base, and if you are barred from Misawa, it means you will be barred from all United States Forces Japan bases until you leave Japan."

Unlike a court martial, which can permanently alter the course of a service member's life, the MCAP process is a way to help civilians make amends for misconduct. Even as such, a MCAP should not be taken lightly.

"We are not trying to embarrass people," said Captain Stein. "It is the wing commander's program to give base residents the opportunity to be heard. The MCAP is a tool used to help create a safe and secure base, and enforce good order and discipline on our civilians and military members."