Military Accepts More Recruits With Criminal Records

It's difficult for people with criminal records to find employment. Young people sometimes hope that military service will provide them with civilian job skills and a fresh start, but the military has, until recently, refused enlistment to most of those who have a criminal past.

Given the military's ongoing shortage of new recruits, more individuals with criminal histories are finding a second chance in the military.

[Since 2003, the Army has] 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.

Desperation breeds forgiveness. Enlistees with conviction records made up almost 12 percent of the Army's recruits in 2006. It's unfortunate that the only opportunity to obtain employment available to many of these ex-offenders is in such a dangerous occupation. Fresh starts should be routine for those who have paid their debt to society.

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    Let me get this straight. (1.00 / 1) (#30)
    by Slado on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 04:36:52 PM EST
    Dems complain that cons can't vote (because they usually vote for them) but then complain when they are allowed to join the military.

    I don't understand.  

    You can vote for Pelosi but you can't serve?

    Let me help then (4.00 / 1) (#36)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 08:38:31 PM EST
    Dems complain that cons can't vote (because they usually vote for them) but then complain when they are allowed to join the military.

    I don't understand.

    When you vote, you are handed a piece of paper.  When you enlist, they give you a gun.  You can't kill someone with a ballot, although voting for Bush is close.

    Now do you understand?

    I'm a veteran myself.  Served in the '60s, medic, US Army, E-5.  Want to see my Honorable Discharge?

    Anyone who tells you that Vietnam was an honorable event is a liar.  Which branch were you in?


    I don't think that's what they're saying. (none / 0) (#32)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 05:03:24 PM EST
    Slado, they're not complaining that some ex-convicts are joining the military. They're just nanny-nannying the idea that the military is getting trashed.

    Actually (none / 0) (#37)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 08:43:16 PM EST
    Speaking as a veteran, I am extremely upset with the fact that the military is being trashed in order to make money for cowards and thieves.

    If you are NOT upset by the fact that the military is being trashed, why not?  

    Why don't you join up snd keep another criminal out of uniform?  Assuming, of course, that you are not yourself a criminal.


    Is there (none / 0) (#1)
    by HeadScratcher on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 10:27:56 AM EST
    Is there some sort of job placement program for ex-cons? Sort of like a monster.com or career builder.com that can assist. That way people who wish to help those who need a second chance (such as defense lawyers) can have a resource readily available. Same thing for college scholarships, internships, etc...

    often (none / 0) (#3)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 10:44:58 AM EST
      Parole/probation officers know of employers willing to hire ex-cons although these are, not surprisingly, usually bottom of the barrel jobs. As a lawyer, you often through social or professional relationships know of people who will hire clients/former clients.

      Frankly, I have had very limited success with folks I have helped with employment. The inability to be a "good employee" is often perhaps a symptom of the same conditions which lead people to be in the criminal justice system.



    There is one way... (none / 0) (#22)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:37:25 PM EST
    I know of for ex-cons to get jobs.  When the job app. asks you if you are an ex-con, you lie.

    If you don't, you don't get the job.  Unless the employer is really desperate, like the Army and the Marines in  this case.


    We have someone who helps (none / 0) (#38)
    by JSN on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 08:49:11 PM EST
    parolees find jobs. Some employers who hire them say they are
    not much different than employees without records. If they show up on time and do their job they will be retained as long as there is work.

    They are much more likely to be employed in jobs where they have no contact with the customers. If they were convicted of crime against property they can't work in the financial industry, Drug crimes shut other doors (in fact some companies test all employees for drugs). Some states have license restrictions for barbers and plumbers etc. that can exclude felons. In Iowa they use loss of drivers license as an additional criminal sanction for drug crimes and other offenses. This can make it tough to get a job and find a place to live.

    Some colleges and universities are starting to do criminal records checks on all undergraduate students instead of just professional schools that are closed to felons. So even more doors are being shut.

    One thing about the military is if you screw up there are consequences. With a lot of these kids they get slapped on the wrist a bunch of times and then someone gets fed up and wham they are in prison. In the past the military did manage to give some of these folks a second chance.

    It will be interesting to see how this works out.


    "Well, they are (none / 0) (#2)
    by Che's Lounge on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 10:30:07 AM EST
    already f**ked up, so actually this works out quite well for them".

    Barbara Bush

    Source? (none / 0) (#4)
    by Gabriel Malor on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 10:50:32 AM EST
    You got a source for that quote?

    It's called satire, junior (4.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:42:29 AM EST
    bad post there (none / 0) (#11)
    by Dadler on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:43:29 AM EST
    the end of that first paragraph should've read, "the one which Che is so obviously parodying".

    Dadler and Che (none / 0) (#20)
    by jimakaPPJ on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 01:55:45 PM EST
    That is pure BS. All she was doing was trying to say that the hospitality extended by Houston was appreciated and was working well for them.

    So how was Houston's charity rewarded?

    Since Sept. 1, when an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Louisianans resettled in Houston after Hurricane Katrina, evacuees are believed to have been involved in 26 slayings, or nearly 17 percent of all homicides. The cases, according to Houston police, involved 34 evacuees -- 19 of them victims and 15 of them suspects.

    BTW - I got a real chuckle when one of the networks interviewed a guy on TV who was complaining that his government given debit card only had $1500. on it.


    OFF TOPIC TROLL POST (none / 0) (#25)
    by Sailor on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:47:12 PM EST
    Sailor (none / 0) (#41)
    by jimakaPPJ on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 09:04:05 AM EST
    Yes, Che's comment, as well as Dadler's was off topic.

    Your buds provoke and then you complain.


    Barbara (none / 0) (#10)
    by eric on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:42:32 AM EST
    This one is on me:

    "So Many Of The People In The Arena... Were Underprivileged Anyway, So This Is Working Very Well For Them"


    Snopes confirms:



    also (none / 0) (#5)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 10:54:22 AM EST
    "...serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army's moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide. "

    This the quote that puzzles me. other than certain forms of vehicular homicide, i wasn't aware of any jurisdictions where these offenses are misdemeanors.

    Some are (none / 0) (#13)
    by eric on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:55:51 AM EST
    In Minnesota, 4th and 5th degree assault can be misdemeanors.  3rd and 4th degree burglary are, as well.  Robbery is always a felony.

    Second chances (none / 0) (#6)
    by atlanta lawyer on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:10:09 AM EST
    I've known lawyers who do pro bono work advocating for exoffender rehabilitation and job placement, but their professional work involves advising companies to do due diligence, run criminal background checks, and not to hire those with criminal histories for fear of civil liability. They regret the tough bind they are in.

    You'll notice it's the Army and Marines that are loosening the standards, not the Air Force or Navy.

    a lot of this "concern" (none / 0) (#7)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:16:01 AM EST
      about the risks of allowing enlistment of these people sounds phony to me and to be a velied way of highlighting the fact that war, not surprisingly,  makes recruitment more difficult than it is in times of peace.

      It's slightly before my time, but we have all heard stories of young men who got into scrapes with the law "in the old days" and were basically given the option of enlisting or facing the music in court. i don't recall too many stories of these folks being any greater problem to military discipline than the "average" enlistee or draftee.


    Let me elucidate then (none / 0) (#35)
    by Repack Rider on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 08:28:55 PM EST
    I have a friend who was given that choice at the age of 17.  They kicked him out after a year, wasting all that training.

    No one would say (none / 0) (#40)
    by Deconstructionist on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 06:53:36 AM EST
      that all of those types succeed, but all of the kids who enlist w/o priors don't make it either. The question is whether in the aggregate people with such issues fail at a rate significantly higher than the overall average and make it a waste of resources to allow any of them to join.



    It's all Bush's fault (none / 0) (#8)
    by HeadScratcher on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:36:43 AM EST
    Are there any statistics that show that ex-cons don't cause any more problems in the private sector than the general workforce? This might help alleviate the situation if there are no differences.

    Also, since there seems to be incrased liability for employers who hire ex-cons. Is there something that can be done to alleviate that issue so other members of the legal community don't punish people for assisting ex-cons

    I don't see how anything "fair".... (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:56:42 AM EST
      could be done.

      Employers have a duty to exercise reasonable care to provide  people it is  forseeable may be affected by their employees  with a safe environment.

       I'm not persuaded that providing employers with immunity from liability for wrongful acts perepetrated by their employees would be fair to those injured.

      Short of granting immunity, we are looking at standard concepts of reasonable forseeability and due care. Am I exercising due care if I hire a person I know to have a record? Well, first, that would depend on the basis of the record. Second, it would depend on the nature of the job and the degree of opportunity to hurt others and the degree of supervision. Relaxing these standards to provide incentive to hire ex-cons isn't a whole lot different than relaxing other health and safety requirements to reduce exposure to liability.

      If I'm relieved of liability for the acts of people I know have a violent history, why should I not also be relieved of liability for the effects of using equipment I know to have caused injuries in the past?

       If I know you have a drug conviction that might not make it any more forseeable to me that you would commit a crime harming another than if you had no record. If you had a conviction for battery or unlawful wounding, at the very least, i'd probably need to make an inquiry into all the circumstances.

      These are just a couple of examples of the issues. The bottom line is if as an employer I have qualified applicants who have no record what benefit is it to me to hire someone with a record? Even a slight risk of increased exposure is not worth it in the absence of some offsetting benefit to me.

      That's why, in  my experience anyway, it is easiest to place people in construction  and the restaurant/hospitality fields because these employers deal with high turnover and unreliable employees and often a perpetual shortage of "good emplyees."

      Fields where there is a surplus of of qualified and dependable employees are not likely to take many chances.



    but its still a permenant badge (none / 0) (#12)
    by eric on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 11:46:08 AM EST
    The sad part is that when (if) they come back, they probably will still have a hard time getting a decent job.

    Why "sad?" (4.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 12:08:51 PM EST
      The idea that many people who have done wrong deserve a second chance is not the same as the idea that they deserve a "clean slate" or even the same chance they would have if they had not done wrong.

      Rather than lamenting the reality that a criminal record can be a serious handicap in many contesxts as being unfair, we need to do a better job of impressing that reality upon kids before they have one.

      We have to deal with the social reality that we have many people who have records and that they are more likely to do wrong again if they are not afforded some reasonable degree of opportunity, but I can't buy into the theory that it's unfair for them to face adverse consequences in society at large even after they have completed any criminal justice sanctions.

      People are allowed to judge you on all factors and what you have done in the past is one of those factors.


    What if... (none / 0) (#24)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:42:06 PM EST
    it was a bullsh*t conviction?  There is no recourse for the railroaded.

    well, (none / 0) (#27)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:52:48 PM EST
      there is the recourse of explaining yourself and convincing people it was a BS conviction.

    I guess.... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 04:13:17 PM EST
    but thats a hard sell.  You mark "yes" to that convict box and you don't even get to the face to face interview to explain yourself.  Somebody without a record got the job. Maybe more qualified, maybe less.

    The proverbial Scarlet Letter.


    no doubt... (none / 0) (#29)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 04:26:21 PM EST
     ... it's a huge burden in amy contexts, but, you don't have to convince everyone or even most people, just one person with an ability and willingness to help you prove yourself.

      Are wrongfully convicted people at a disadvantage almostas great as those justly convicted? Yes. Is that fair? No.

      Of course, that logic that it's unfair to treat the wrongly convicted the same as the justly convicted sems to imply it is is fair to discriminate against the justly convicted. Does it not?


    Good point,,, (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by kdog on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 04:41:19 PM EST
    I do see the implication, but that's not what I'm trying to say.

    My stance is after you do your time your record should be sealed.  I also think you should get your right to vote back and all other rights as a citizen.  It just seems free-er that way.  Protecting all ex-cons, which includes the railroaded.

    Not a popular view, I realize.


    if i recall correctly, and i do, (none / 0) (#16)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 12:12:33 PM EST
    one of those charged with murder, in the killing of an iraqi family, was an ex-con, with a violent history, as well as psychological problems.

    i'm not so sure it's a great idea to pair up violent ex-cons with gov't issued weapons, and then send them off to a conflict as confused as that going on in iraq.

    a lot of these people also have drug abuse problems, which is, in part, what got them into trouble in the first place. is the military going to offer them rehab services, before training them in the fine art of killing?

    the air force and navy both control wmd's, as well as highly sophifisticated, classified hardware. they aren't experiencing the same recruiting difficulties as the army & marines are. for these reasons, i doubt seriously they are going to lower their standards.

    as much as i sympathize with the plight of ex-cons, i remain unconvinced that putting them in the high stress position of the military, with all the destructive hardware available to them, is in their's, or our best interests.

    yes (none / 0) (#17)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 12:23:01 PM EST
    "violent history, as well as psychological problems."

      Should be a large red flag. Of course, there are violent histories and there are violent histories and the same for psychological problems.

      A single battery conviction that arose out of a one-time barroom brawl is a "violent history" and  a mild personailty disorder (of which there ones to fit almost anyone who actually has to be diagnosed depending on who is doing the diagnosing and for what purpose) is a "psychological problem." On the other hand, multiple unlawful woundings and a severe case of schizophrenia also fall in there.

      I think the idea of waivers is sound but there needs to be very close scrutiny of the individual's characteristics and complete background before one is granted when the prior history shows any evidence suggesting abnormal violent tendencies or a degree of mental instability.

    excons (none / 0) (#18)
    by diogenes on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 12:35:33 PM EST
    I wonder how many of these "excons" were convicted of drug charges or were convicted at an age when rich parents manage to get their children "Youthful Offender" status, thus keeping those rich kids from being "excons".
    The personality profiles of cops and crooks on the MMPI personality is often quite similar; I suspect that many excons would make excellent soldiers if they survive the discipline of basic training without punching a superior officer.

    Where do bullies come from (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sailor on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:49:15 PM EST
    I suspect that many excons would make excellent soldiers if they survive the discipline of basic training without punching a superior officer.
    Gee, not hitting a superior officer and not raping, murdering and covering up crimes are exactly the same. I never knew that.

    diogenes said, in part: (none / 0) (#21)
    by cpinva on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:34:13 PM EST
    if they survive the discipline of basic training without punching a superior officer.

    exactly. while it's true that many ex-cons committed non-violent, one-time offenses (drug possession is a personal favorite), these aren't the ones that concern me. it's the ones with a (not always available) history of problems that will prove to be the greatest risk.

    while it's also true that the military works diligently to instill discipline, they need some measure of raw material to start with. those who come from totally chaotic backgrounds have the toughest row to hoe. a history of trouble isn't a promising start.

    but, we'll see. as for what awaits them on their return to civilian life, i should think that an excellent military record would go far to make up for "youthful" mistakes.

    what the hell, it worked for bush!

    actually.... (none / 0) (#23)
    by Deconstructionist on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 03:40:54 PM EST
     at least a substantial plurality of his mistakes came after not before.

    Repack (none / 0) (#34)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Feb 14, 2007 at 08:15:01 PM EST
    We don't often agree on much, but you're all right in my book.

    Notes From The Group W Bench (none / 0) (#39)
    by john horse on Thu Feb 15, 2007 at 06:07:46 AM EST
    I am glad that the Army is expanding its standards to let in more people with moral, medical, and intellectual skills problems.  

    Reminds me of that scene from Alices Restaurant.


    I went over to the sargent, said, "Sargeant, you got a lot a damn gall to
    ask me if I've rehabilitated myself, I mean, I mean, I mean that just, I'm
    sittin' here on the bench, I mean I'm sittin here on the Group W bench
    'cause you want to know if I'm moral enough join the army, burn women,
    kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug."

    So now the Army will take the criminals, even the litterbugs, and they will send them to Iraq not once, but multiple times, because they have found that there is nothing more healthy than post tramautic stress for people with criminal records.