Under pressure to attain recruitment goals, the Army and Marine corps have witnessed a slight increase in the number of recruits who have prior felonies. The number of soldiers admitted to the Army with felony records went from 248 in 2006 to 511 in 2007 and the Marine totals went from 208 to 350. In reality, these are rather negligible numbers and merely reflect the pressue on recruitment personnel to reach target goals. The bulk of the crimes were related to burglary, other thefts and drug offenses while a handful fell into more serious crimes. Congressman Henry Waxman believes the figures indicate “the significant increase in the recuruitment of persons with criminal records is a result of the strain put on the military by the iraq war and may be undermining military readiness.”
Pentagon spokesperson, Col. Jonathan Withington frankly stated the issue as related to “low unemployment, a protracted war on terror, a decline in propensity to serve,” and lack of enthusiasm on the part of parents or teachers to encourage young men and women to serve in the armed forces.
Although, in the best of all possible worlds, no one with a felony record would be admitted into the armed forces, but in an age when smoking a joint can result in obtaining a criminal record, one must take with a grain of salt these concerns about prior felony records.