A bill mandating that convicted felons enlist in the military
A bill mandating that convicted felons enlist in the military - updating mambo
Army and Defense Department officials defended the waiver program as a way to admit young people who had made a mistake but overcome past behavior.
About one in five Army recruits needed a waiver to enlist in 2006, up from 12.7 percent in 2003.
The number of felony waivers granted by the Army grew from 411 in 2003 to 901 in 2006, according to the Pentagon, or about one in 10 of the moral waivers approved that year.
Other misdemeanors, which could be petty theft, writing a bad check or some assaults, jumped from about 2,700 to more than 6,000 in 2006.
The data was obtained through a federal information request and released by the California-based Michael D.
Palm Center, a think tank that studies military issues."The fact that the military has allowed more than 100,000 people with such troubled pasts to join its ranks over the past three years illustrates the problem we're having meeting our military needs in this time of war," said Aaron Belkin, director of the center.
And they said about two-thirds of the waivers granted by the Marines are for drug use, because they — unlike the other services — require a waiver if someone has been convicted once for marijuana use.
Lawmakers and other observers say they are concerned that the struggle to fill the military ranks in this time of war has forced the services to lower their moral standards."The data is crystal clear.
"By lowering standards, we are endangering the rest of our armed forces and sending the wrong message to potential recruits across the country." Army spokesman Paul Boyce said Tuesday he was concerned that the Pentagon data differed from Army numbers, but said that "anything that is considered a risk or a serious infraction of the law is given the highest level of review." "Our goal is to make certain that we recruit quality young men and women who can keep America defended against its enemies," Boyce said.
Palm Center, a think tank that studies military issues.
The minor crimes represented more than three-quarters of the moral waivers granted by the Army in 2006, up from more than half in 2003.
Army and Defense Department officials defended the waiver program as a way to admit young people who may have made a mistake early in life but have overcome past behavior.
Most are moral waivers, which include some felonies, misdemeanors, and traffic and drug offenses.