14 February, 2007

recruiting canon fodder - "not putting a hammer in their hands"

Over 10% of last year's recruits had felony records.

The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

During that time, the Army has employed a variety of tactics to expand its diminishing pool of recruits. It has offered larger enlistment cash bonuses, allowed more high school dropouts and applicants with low scores on its aptitude test to join, and loosened weight and age restrictions.

It has also increased the number of so-called "moral waivers" to recruits with criminal pasts, even as the total number of recruits dropped slightly. The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army's moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

The number of waivers for felony convictions also increased, to 11 percent of the 8,129 moral waivers granted in 2006, from 8 percent. . . .

The Army enlisted 69,395 men and women last year.
That's over 800 felons recruited into the armed services in one year.

Aaron Belkin, director of the Michael D. Palm Center, a research institute at the University of California, Santa Barbara, that focuses on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy regarding homosexuality, obtained the most recent data from the Department of Defense. . . .

Since more than 125,000 service members with criminal histories have joined the military in the last three years, Mr. Belkin said, "you have a sizeable population that has been incarcerated and is not used to the same cultural norms as everybody else."

"The chance that one of those individuals is going to commit an atrocity or disobey an order is higher,"
he said. "Many of those individuals can be good soldiers, but in some cases they have special needs. The military should address those needs rather than pretending they don't exist."
Of course there's no "moral waiver" for the guy who tells 'em he likes to suck cock. That's simply unacceptable.

John D. Hutson, dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire and former judge advocate general of the Navy, said the military must tread carefully in deciding which criminals to accept. There is a reason, he said, why allowing people with criminal histories into the military has long been the exception rather than the rule.

"If you are recruiting somebody who has demonstrated some sort of antisocial behavior and then you are a putting a gun in their hands, you have to be awfully careful about what you are doing," Mr. Hutson said. "You are not putting a hammer in their hands, or asking them to sell used cars. You are potentially asking them to kill people."
And of course there's no 'moral waiver' available to any ex-felon who might want to vote.


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