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Army Says That Felons Are People Too

April 22, 2008

Henry Waxman is a California Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “There was a rapid rise in 2007 in the number of waivers the Army and Marine Corps granted to recruits convicted of serious felonies,” Waxman wrote in a letter Monday to David Chu, the under-secretary of defense for personnel and readiness.

Waxman thinks with the recent recruiting scandal, that something may be up. The Army and Marine Corps have been allowing convicted felons to serve in increasing numbers. According to publicly available information, recruits have been allowed to enlist after conviction of crimes including assault, burglary, drug possession and making terrorist threats. Army Public Affairs claims that many “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.” What does that say about U.S. laws and enforcement?

Representative Waxman has given the Pentagon a month to hand over up-to-date details on the number of waivers granted, reports on how the recruits have performed and information about how the waivers are related to meeting recruitment goals.

The Army has defended the use of waivers as a response to a changing American society. The Army holds that only three in 10 Americans of military age “meet all our stringent medical, moral, aptitude or administrative requirements.”

Waxman did admit that “there can be valid reasons for personnel waivers.” He claims to recognize the importance of providing opportunities to individuals who have served their sentences and rehabilitated themselves. That because felons are people too.

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