The former Army
soldier convicted of conspiracy in the murder of Pfc.
Barry Winchell has been released from prison after serving
seven years of an original 12 1/2-year sentence.
Former Army specialist Justin Fisher was linked to the
1999 beating death of Winchell at Fort Campbell,
attacked by Calvin Glover, a former soldier based at Fort
Campbell, in what was later revealed to be an antigay
hate crime. An investigation by the advocacy group
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network found that
Winchell had been the target of constant antigay harassment
in the months leading up to his murder.
In response to
the Winchell case, Pentagon leaders adopted a 13-point
"Anti-Harassment Action Plan" meant to protect troops from
such harassment. But according to SLDN there is no
evidence that the plan has ever been implemented.
"Seven years after the murder of Pfc. Winchell,
the military has done little to protect its troops
from another Justin Fisher," C. Dixon Osburn, executive
director of SLDN, said in a statement. "By the
Pentagon's own admission, antigay harassment is
rampant throughout the forces, yet Pentagon leaders have
barely lifted a finger to curb attacks on its own troops."
A 2000 Department
of Defense survey found that 80% of troops had heard
antigay remarks during the prior year. Thirty-seven percent
said they witnessed or experienced targeted incidents
gave Justin Fisher a shockingly lenient sentence in the
first place, but just as importantly they have also failed,
every day since, to protect other soldiers from
Barry's fate," Patricia Kutteles, Winchell's mother,
said in a statement. "As a mother, I never want to see
Barry's story repeated. As an American, I am outraged
that our leaders have taken no action to make sure it never
happens again." (The Advocate)