WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Army and Marine Corps let 861 convicted felons join their ranks in 2007, an 88 percent jump over the previous year that helped meet recruiting goals in wartime, according to data released on Monday.
The Army, the largest branch of the U.S. military, gave felony waivers to 511 recruits last year, up from 249 in 2006, according to the figures released by a congressional panel. The Marine Corps granted 350 waivers, up from 208 the year before.
The waivers for convictions ranging from assault and burglary to manslaughter and sex crimes allowed the military to enlist people otherwise precluded by recruitment standards.
Nearly 250 recruits were granted waivers for their burglary convictions -- 142 from the Marine Corps and 106 from the Army. Another 87 waivers were granted for recruits convicted of aggravated assault.
Both the Army and Marine Corps also granted waivers to recruits convicted of making terrorist threats, including bomb threats. The Marine Corps granted five such waivers in 2007 while the Army granted two.
The Army gave waivers to eight people convicted of arson, 56 convicted of grand larceny and five convicted of sex crimes.
The Marines gave waivers to 11 people convicted of carrying a weapon on school grounds.
Army spokesman Paul Boyce defended waivers, saying the pool of recruits reflected society at large.
"We are a reflection of American society and the changes that affect it: today's young men and women are more overweight, have a greater incidence of asthma and are being charged for offenses that in earlier years wouldn't have been considered a serious offense, and might not have resulted in charges in the first place," he said in an e-mail.
Alrighty. So let's see if I have this straight: making terrorist threats, bomb threats, killing people etc etc etc weren't "serious" offences before...well...sometime before the army decided that people convicted of those types of offences should get the chance to be all they can be in the US military? Have I got that right? And I guess there are too many fat and sick kids now too which makes these waivers the best idea ever!
(Hint: how about ending all of the massive military spending and focusing on health care for everyone for a change? And if all of those convictions can be waived, why not empty some of your overcrowded prisons at the same time - or would you only do that if those people promised to die for you too?)
Well, I guess they can join right in with all of those members of various hate groups over there and have a grand old time of it.
What's wrong with this picture?