Military Enlists Convicted Felons

April 21, 2008 By
Posted in Military Life, Military News, Top Posts

Really?

There’s been a lot of talk by those who detest this administration and are clinging to anything they can that “supports” their notion of an unjust war.  One of the reasons they site for why we shouldn’t be at war in Iraq is that the military has had to resort to “lowering our standards” with more moral waivers than ever before.  The fact is that moral waivers have been increasing since prior to the war in Iraq.

Under pressure to meet combat needs, the Army and Marine Corps brought in significantly more recruits with felony convictions last year than in 2006, including some with manslaughter and sex crime convictions.

 Data released by a congressional committee shows the number of soldiers admitted to the Army with felony records jumped from 249 in 2006 to 511 in 2007. And the number of Marines with felonies rose from 208 to 350.

Those numbers represent a fraction of the more than 180,000 recruits brought in by the active duty Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2007. But they highlight a trend that has raised concerns both within the military and on Capitol Hill.

I have another perspective I’d like to share.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistic’s  ”Indicators of School Crime and Safety” report that came out two years ago – the latest report available:

71% of public schools experiences one or more violent incidents and 36% of public school reported violent incidents to the police.  20% of public schools experienced one or more serious violent incidents, and 15% reported serious violent incidents to the police.

According to FBI statistics in 2006 (the latest available), the number of juveniles arrested for assault (ie, schoolyard fights, but not including aggravated assault) rose 5.0% in the past decade.   The number of robberies by juveniles rose 34.4%.  Violent crimes involving arson by juveniles rose 7.6%.  Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter by juveniles rose 17.8%.  Vandalism among juveniles rose 10.4%.  Weapons offenses by juveniles rose 30.9%. 

In 2006, 414,822 juveniles committed the offenses that the article highlights being waivered in to the military.   The military recruited 680 of those juveniles – a mere 0.16%!  Those individuals made up less than one half percent of the total enlistment contracts signed.  With all these increases in crime by juveniles – the government’s constant drive to make everything illegal! – it’s only natural that the military would have fewer individuals to pool from. 

I don’t think the military is lowering its standards.  I think American society is!!  It’s time the American media used a little context instead of making our jobs harder than they need to be.

60 Responses to Military Enlists Convicted Felons

  1. I think there are several factors that go into the increased number of juveniles with records these days. “Zero tolerance” rules/laws that don’t allow for an application of common sense (like the story a number of years ago about the honors student who had a cooking knife in her car being in violation of a “no weapons on campus” decree). Another factor, I think, is the glorification in the media (movies, music) of the “gansta” lifestyle, and even suburban youth wanting to emulate that kind of behavior. The military seems to be having to make some adjustments to the changing demographics of society as a whole. That is a sad statement about society moreso than a mark against the military…

  2. I enlisted in 1958 at age 18.,with a juvenile waiver ..non felony..served 23 years E-1 to E-7..to Warrent Officer..served two combat tours in Vietnam. Received a Bronze Star Tet 68…held secret clearance..worked with nukes…attended collage while on active duty,…retired and become a NC Police Officer ..attended the Charlotte NC Police Academy. I Received a Police Purple heart . For a.on duty gunshot. Disibility retired for this injury.

    Without the chance to serve my country, which ws given to me by a waiver of my crimes as a youth, I feel by life would not have been anywhere near rewarding as it has been.
    In a all volunteer military I feel there should be a place for those who have offered to serve and if selected should be treated no different then any other soldier.

    I thank my country for the chance to prove myself. Think very hard before you close the door on military service to those with a minor crininal record. That waiver was the most important document in my life.

  3. The military is an excellent place for people who came from a rough background or made some mistakes as teenagers to get straightened out. The comradery embedded into the military psyche may be what many of these young men seek when they join gangs. I have worked with many “jail or sail” type people, and they all performed with excellence. Obviously, there should be some restrictions and all felons should be on a case-by-case basis with their recruiter, but ultimately this will benefit society.

    • I TRULY UNDERSTAND YOUR FRAME OF MIND REGARDING THE DISCIPLINE; HOWEVER, CONVICTED FELONS ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY, THEY USUALLY HAVE DISORDERS FROM THEIR PAST; THEREFORE, THESE ISSUES AND/OR DISABILITIES PLAYS A HUGE FACTOR ON FELLOW SOLDIERS AND FAMILIES. I DATED ONE AND WAS NOT AWARE, UNTIL I SAW THE ‘SIGNS’ OF AN UNSTABLE MAN (I COULDN’T PUT MY FINGER ON IT), AS WE BECAME CLOSER HE CONFIDED IN ME. THIS RESULTED IN HIS JUSTIFICATION FOR BEING IN ‘CHARGE’ ON URINALYSIS WITH SOLDIERS AND HE ‘HIMSELF’ GETTING SIGNIFICANT ‘FEMALE’ OTHERS TO USE USE THE CUP AND HE WOULD EASILY SWITCH IT DURING TESTING. HE SAID HE WAS ARRESTED FOUR TIMES IN THE MILITARY FOR BATTERY (DOMESTIC) AND FALSIFYING HIS MILITARY DOCUMENTS. NOW, LOOKING AT THE DISCIPLINE IS NOT THE ONLY THING TO BE CONSIDERED, NOR PASIFIED AS A RECOVERY SCAPEGOAT FOR CONVICTED FELONS. I KNOW THIS IS ONE CASE, BUT EVERY CASE SHOULD BE INVESTIGATED AND DECIDED UPON. THE MILITARY IS NOT JUST EXCEPTING ANOTHER ‘BODY’ TO SUPPORT THE UNIT. THEY ARE NOT WORTHY OF THE HONARARY AND JUSTICE IN WHICH THESE YOUNGER SOLDIERS WITH DECENT BACKGROUNDS HAVE ACCOMPLISHED. THERE ARE ALOT OF CONVICTED FELONS THAT ARE THAT WAY, DUE TO MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES. SO WHY ARE WE SUPPORTING THEM TO DEFEND AND EMBRACE OUR COUNTRY (AND HANDING THEM A WEAPON), THAT MOST OF THEM HAVE ABUSED PRIVELEDGES TO EVEN HAVE. JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT. BY THE WAY, I RID MYSELF OF THAT SOLDIER AND WAS HARASSED FOR TWO YEARS. I FOUND OUT THE REST AND OFTEN WONDERED HOW AND WHY DID ‘MY’ MILITARY EXCEPT THIS (TEARS)……

  4. First of all, thank you, CJ, for posting about this. I was going to research it further myself because it stank of another witch hunt on our military under the heading of defeatist politiking. I am so tired of this nonsense!
    I should have known you’d be right on this.

    I personally know of 2 young men who were headed for jail time before they entered the Army, mostly because their parents didn’t give two good hoots about raising them up right. So they got into trouble a lot. One is now working toward becoming a SGT and the other just made Ranger with high marks and will be deploying soon. Both had waivers. (These were, as LT Nixon advises, done on a case by case basis. The recruiters don’t want to put anyone in the military that will endanger others’ lives.)

    They are very grateful to be in the military instead of a prison. And they are now proud of themselves. Plus, they have a family, which is something neither really had their whole lives.
    I’ve known a lot of “lost” children. Some used to sleep on my livingroom floor as I didn’t want them on the streets. They were the kids of folks making at least $100,000/ yr, too busy to make a lot of money and raise their kids at the same time, I guess.
    So, yes, I agree ~ it isn’t the military standards that have fallen. I’d say society is sinking lower and losing it’s kids. Thank god some find the military.

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  7. Great post CJ.

  8. I don’t believe that society or the military really need to worry about the so called “lower standards” being applied to applicants and recruiters. Most of the problem stems from the socialist approach of trying to define and control all aspects of our wonderful multi-cultural American society. With all of the emphasis on using the law and statutes to direct and classify everything we do in our lives as either good or bad with the addition of making some of these actions felonies without any real damaged party or property. It is too easy now-a-days for someone to be classified as a criminal without ever really harming anyone else. Freedom has been sacrificed for definitions of what should or should not be done without seeing if you had intentionally caused someone else harm. Criminal Intent has been lost from our legal lexicon and replaced with whether you conformed to the well intentioned statutes of the State. I remember several members of my squadron who were discharged from the Navy for possession of a plant. These men were good workers who showed up on time for work and did a good job when there. Unfortunately, they were expunged for early 20th century efforts to control minorities by outlawing the things their culture happened to enjoy and partake in. The political response made the mere possession of a plant or plant product a crime and so that the lesson was driven home, a minor amount of the substance was classified as a felony. It is easy to make bad political decisions that the public has to endure and the media do nothing to investigate and simply reinforce the bad decision made with propaganda based on new and always changing “reasons” for its outlawry. Since the political system made so many criminals out of non-criminal activiities, it is only logical that more criminals are now in society.
    Ayn Rand made the following observation in the 1950s: “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted—and you create a nation of law-breakers—and then you cash in on guilt.”
    Grocho Marx made the following observation about the same time: “Politics is (1) the art of looking for trouble, (2) finding it everywhere, (3) diagnosing it incorrectly and (4) applying the wrong remedy.”
    The military has always been an alternative method for judges who believe that the person brought before him for legal judgment may have potential positive contributions to society by telling him he has the option of enlisting in the military or serving a jail term. Most seemed to choose the military. As pointed out above, many persons got their life together while in the service and did improve the world thereby.
    We are now in the middle of a great socialist experiment wherein we are all told what “society” expects of us and then punishes us for not conforming. So much for the freedom this country is supposed to represent and stand for. We now have more people in jail than any other country in the world as a percentage of the population shows. Is there some kind of a disconnect here? After all I did enter the military to defend the freedoms of our country and now find that if I were still in it, I would be defending a large group of politicos that are doing all they can to undermine those freedoms.
    The German people of the 1930s thought that the Nazis would protect their freedoms, but they undermined them by scapegoating the Jews and other undesireables as the causes of the country’s problems. Were they really the cause of the problems or were the politicos the problem?
    Stalin and the Bolshevics were eager to bring “freedom” to the Russian people and ended up enslaving them. Their country is still trying to get out from under the heel of the State. Even most of what the communists worked with in their society was already in existence under the Czar; i.e. secret police to spy on and deter any resistance to government edicts (NKVD).
    “The state spends much time and effort persuading the public that it is not really what it is and that the consequences of its actions are positive rather than negative.”
    Hans-Hermann Hoppe
    We still have much to learn about freedom and until we see that true criminal acts harm other persons or their property, we will never have a free society. Tolerance is a necessary component of that freedom and the rules of the common law set down the principles for liberty to flourish.
    I conclude by stating that society is neither worse nor better than before, but only different and continuing to change. Beware of politicians with agendas that don’t recognize individual liberty and try to place us all in little boxes for them to rule. Democracy is not a general curative panacea and anyone in the minority is subject to outlawry by sophistry because a 51% majority can control anybody for anything. That is why Ben Franklin stated after the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that “We have given you a Republic if you can keep it.” The rule of law is much used by our leaders today, but they mean to call their rules and statutes “law” and the reality is that most of their statutes are not law but political manipulation.

  9. I enetered the Army in 1971. We had quite a few of the “serve the army or serve your term” in basic training. Some should not have been there and others fit in well.

    In my 33 years plus service, it boils down to the individual. Based on my observations, my recommendation would be to limit the waivers to certain infractions, and to have special periodic performance evaluations (a probation period) over the first 3-4 years to verify which ones should not be retained.

    I would also initially restrict the MOS’s available to them during this probationary period.

    But the story makes good copy for the newspapers and politicians.

  10. To me the military should should be looked upon as the “lower standard.” In society we look at someone who kills with fear and feel they should be put to death or incarcerated for life. Meanwhile, men who drive tanks, drop bombs, and shoot m-16′s a people are honored. So I guess its okay to be a “killer,” as long as its for the United States and not for yourself.

  11. Mike,

    You’re right! Fear us! FEAR US!! Run for your life because we’re liable to snap. Boogety boogety! Run, hide, save yourself before it’s too late. Lock your doors, bar up your windows. Fear the Soldiers. FEAR THE SOLDIERS!!!

  12. Mike:

    “To me the military should should be looked upon as the “lower standard.””

    It’s dolts like you that fail to recognize the fact that it’s the military that gives you the right to show your ass with statements like this. A nation without a strong military is destined to be ruled by others. Perhaps that’s what you want; a Government that will wipe your nose, feed you, and tuck you in at night.
    It’s going to be O.K. The mental disorder you have is known as Socialism. Our soldiers are here to protect you from yourself.

  13. I was convicted of a felony in 2001, while in the USAF. I was 20 years old at the time of the offenses. I am now 29,married with three children, and am trying to get back in the service. I feel horrible about my drug conviction, and in truth it was only because I was young and ignorant. For some to think that my convictions, and mistakes make me somehow less a patriot, really bothers me, I know if given an oppurtunity to serve my country I would be successful. I want to fight terrorism! I want redemption, and I don’t know if I will ever get a chance at it in the military, because of youthful ignorance.

  14. how can you carry a weapon in the military if you are a felon? aren’t the MOSs already limited if you cant? if it was a state judge that convicted you, can he determine that you can carry a weapon in the military even though it is a federal law?

  15. I am an ex convict who has served his time. Ever since I was a child I wanted to join the Army. Not all convicts are bad people. Not all cops and judges are good people. I am waiting on my waiver.

    I was in state prison when the twin towers fell… And this convict wept.

  16. I have a son that has two felony’s – which were due to a car accident in 2007. Our judical system took their wrath out on him it seems. He was not drinking, he stopped to help the 3 youths, he even called 911 and they arrested him on the spot and took him to jail and towed away his car. The 3 youths were wanting to race him and lost control of their car and ran into a pole, totaling out their car. They were underage, had been drinking and 2 of them even admitted it wasn’t my son’s fault! To make a long story short — my son is not a bad person. He has found after being charged with these felony’s he can’t find a job, he has his license suspended for two years, and he doesn’t have a car to drive anyway. He will probably have to pay enormous insurance premiums when and if he doesn’t retain his license again. He can’t even rent a place to live. With no options left he has tried to join the military and serve his country. He is in top pysical condition, doesn’t have drug problems, phycological problems ect… he has tried and tried to get into the army and they will not let him in saying he has one to many felonies! These are traffic related!!! Here is a willing and able young man ready to fight for the rights and freedom of OUR country and he isn’t able to do so. I find it a shame. A real shame.

  17. I have a friend in the same position .He has two felonies.He can not get a job that pays more than minimum wadge.With no options i hope the military will take him.If he can’t get in i don’t know what he will do.How can a person change his his life if you make it hard to do so.

  18. My son and a friend broke into some businesses around here in early October of 2008. The police spoke with him, he told the truth and returned everything that he had stolen. They never charged him, never arrested him, never fingerprinted him. On January 10th of this year, he joined the Army. When asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony, he said no. We were kind of sweating the criminal check because we hadn’t heard from the police and were assuming that since he returned the stolen items, they weren’t going to press charges. On Feb. 6th, the day he left for boot camp, I got the papers in the mail saying that they were NOW charging him. I went to court for him last week, and the prosecutor almost had him pulled back from boot camp immediately. The probation officer, my attorney, and the public defender persuaded the judge to let him stay and finish boot camp and hold the trial after he graduates. My question is this; the probation officer is going to be speaking to my son’s commander, and once he sees the time line of events, that he in fact joined before the charges were filed, will they allow him to stay in? He didn’t lie on his application, at the time, he had never been charged, nor convicted of a crime. Anyone have any input??

    • Kaci, your son will be fine I think. Since he wasn’t charged until this month, it was not a fraudulent enlistment. However, he may be required to reclassify into another job if the job he enlisted for requires a security clearance. It may be difficult for him to get a clearance if he is found guilty.

  19. Wow! To all of those felons…contact the National Guard they will take you and give you a firearm even though it is against federal law. After years of abuse I finally left this Guardsman. Convicted of domestic violence many times and as well as so much more he is also a three time felon! He was just made a Sgt. in the Idaho National Guard. Get this his reduction of crime in the civil court house was DENIED and he lied all over his enlistment papers. He has also had a STROKE!

    To the true soldiers not just looking for money you are THANKED very much for what you do and what you have done in the past for our country. Keep your heads up true soldiers and families of one and above all remember 2nd chances are not always good “Felons got your back”.

  20. I am a felon. I was allowed to serve. It has given me direction and purpose. I love my country, and I made a mistake. It is what an individual wants in life or an individual’s will to want to change. Labeling is a bad practice for both sides of the game. Those individuals that require a need to judge others to me have no other traits or skills.

  21. I am a c0nvicted fel0n! I have always wanted t0 j0in the service, all my life! I’ve had a h0rribble childho0d(abuse, gr0up h0mes, scho0l dr0p-0ut)it still never deterred me fr0m my feelings 0f wanting t0 d0 s0mething that I feel is s0 meaningful in life and in this c0untry; and that’s serving! If I can enlist, I will!!!! I’ve made mistakes and will c0ntinue t0 I’m sure its called being human, h0wever, if all0wed t0 I will bust my ass t0 serve because it w0uld be a dream c0me true! Fel0ns have dreams and regrets t0 I assure y0u! Human!

  22. David, I’m doing an essay about this subject. I’m all for people with a few past troubles being granted a chance to prove themselves and change their lives in the military. I also wanted to join and they never let me because of an aggravated assault I had when I was 15. I’m now 23 and still can’t join. I was protecting my mother for christ sake! then again, I also had a DUI when I was 18, and a few traffic violations.

    I’m trying to find some reliable sources of information and specific examples, documented true stories about people that were allowed to join and made successful soldiers, also examples of those that did not, and perhaps committed some sort of crime during their time of service.

    If anyone here can help me it would be awesome! Thanks

  23. To Whom It May Concern:

    I have wanted to enlist in the military and due to my criminal background I have been told by recruiters that I am not entitled to enlist. I understand rules and regulations but it just seems like it not fair to civilians like me wanting to serve this country. I have a distribution felony that on my criminal background that happened 10 years ago. At that time I was given first time offenders status and later the charge was dismissed. After 10 years of having NO altercations or charges relating to drugs I am unable to enlist in the military. It just doesn’t seem fair. I have been a good civilian trying to better myself with having some college and holding a steady job. I am married and have children and admit I have a bad past. I was 19 years old when those charges happened and feel I was still young and not matured. I had a hard life growing up, but now have matured and would just like to have the same opportunities as other men and women are given. I understand it’s a privilege to join the military. I just wish that there could be some type of amendment or something done to the regulations allowing individuals that have corrected their life and proved to society they are worthy to join the military.

  24. I grew up in a city where almost every youth I knew was either being raised by a single mother, a grandmother, or was in foster care. There were no men to teach us about being men. There were only the gangs and the cops. The military was the first place to hold me to a stardard and I met men I could respect and model myself after. I was taken out of that city and met people from all walks of life that I would have never had anything to do with otherwise. I learned a lot from them, several of whom became my friends. I became a man in the true sense of the word, not just an adult.

    It was only luck that I was able to escape getting a criminal record during my youth. I wasn’t a career criminal, just someone who went along with the people I knew because I didn’t have anything else going for me. If the cop chasing me had not stumbled when I was 15, my future would have been radically changed. Only a handful of the guys I knew back then got out. The rest are either dead, incarcerated, or soon to be one or the other. A lot of people I knew joined gangs because they promised to give them what they were not getting at home: people who supported them, advised them, mentored them, praised them, showed pride in them, or just gave a da-n about them. When you come from a place where if you are not causing trouble, you are ignored, you would be willing to die for your gang.

    I passed my GED because my Sgt. told me if I didn’t get it after two years after I enlisted, I would have to be seperated from the service. He knew if that happened, I would just go back to where I grew up and it would all be for nothing. If I did well on the practice tests, I wouldn’t spend my time restricted to base and doing sh-t jobs late into the night. That motivated me to learn what I needed and I passed. I still don’t know anyone else who would have done that for me. He’s dead now. Cancer.

    I’m not saying every person who has a criminal record should be wavered in. There are some people who are bad and will never be anything other than that until they die. But if you take a kid out of their messed up environment they grew up in, hold them to a standard and give them some pride, they can turn their lives around. Some people have football coaches for that and they remember their coach for the rest of their lives.

    There are just too many kids who are just growing wild with no one to guide them and they keep having babies who grow up just like them. I think they should bring back the draft and make the training much tougher. Many, if not most will be better people when they leave the military. Just give them a chance. We all did stupid stuff that could have screwed up our lives if they went badly or got caught. Give them a chance to turn their lives into something better instead of ensuring that they cannot leave the screwed up one they currently have because of something they did when they were young.

    That’s all.

  25. I believe that mistakes should not mold the rest of our life’s, we are only human in an unjust world we are bound to have fouls, but most of all were are Americans, and some people forget that, like the person who wrote this topic. When an individual makes a mistake and wants to change their ways and prove their self to society, serving their country is a great way, and hopefully I will be one to soon get that wavier and serve. See maybe American Society isn’t lowering expectation’s maybe you have such high standards that’s why your so upset, I would rather see people change their life’s, and let the military help change the direction in their life and give them discipline. Otherwise they stay on the streets and maybe more problems come, not every one has an outlet or a father or brother for help, some have none…

  26. It is my opinion that the latter statement regarding American society lowering its standards to be very true. When someone has made a mistake, completed the assigned sentence, and has moved on to a better and more responsible life, then there is no reason to hold their past against them. Considering that the statistics are that 78% of those convicted of a felony will return to prison, society as a whole do not have to worry about most of those labeled “felons”.

    As for “ex-felons”, I believe American society doesn’t want them around because they are a reminder that there are consequences for bad choices. I have read articles that speak in high regard of our men and women in uniform. And, I agree. Yet, the uniform does not stop you from making bad choices. And, in fact, there are those that have been convicted of military and civilian felonies while wearing the uniform.

    The fact is, society labels felons and ex-felons, and it is difficult for them to find “gainful” employment to live a self-respecting lifestyle as society wants to judge them based on mistakes made from the past. So, why should they not be allowed to serve within the confines of a structured atmosphere that may likely give them the guidance and direction that they need to be upstanding, law-abiding citizens that the retributive state and federal prison systems obviously cannot.

    It never fails to amaze me how a man that had cheated and beat on his wife, a man or woman who has gotten away with raping their child, people who have done/sold drugs and never gotten caught, or just plain horrible human beings, etc. feel as if they have the right to judge anyone else. Think of it this way, if society would stop shunning these men and women, then maybe they would not have to worry about increased military enlistment of ex-felons. And, the bottom-line is I would rather a man enlist and serve his country than go back to prison. Instead of a weapon being stuck in my face in a convenience store robbery (because no one will hire him because they cannot overlook his past), I would rather his weapon be on the enemies of the free United States of America. And, because of his honorable service to his nation (because it is his country), he have even the same opportunities as those that are too frightened of the possibilities of death to serve (which, in general, are extremely low).

    After some time of working with and around people that have done time, I can tell you that there is an extremely thin line between what is legal and what is not. It just depends on the situation. Also, remember that 97% of indictments end up in plea bargains not because they are guilty but because they just want to get back to a form of normalism in their life patterns before the indictment even happened. Also, finally remember that there is a saying “you can indict a ham sandwich”. I have an associate that is a federal defense attorney (who used to be a federal prosecutor). He said the saying was coined because it is very true.

  27. I came across this site while researching whether the National Guard will accept you if you have felonies. I have not quite found the answer, but, it seems to me that it just depends. You see I am also a convicted felon, but I am also an ex-felon. I received 2 felony convictions for drug possession and intent to distribute. What happened to me is a rather complicated story. First, I was asked by two family to help drive to a family members funeral out of state. I must also mention that these felonies are 16 years old. I was in college at the time at in New York, and had just returned from Tokyo, Japan where I had been for the last 2 years studying Design and Japanese. I have always excelled academically and looked forward to an excellent career and life. Agreeing to go to the funeral ended up being the biggest mistake of my life. When we left NY we were pulled over on the NJ turnpike and when the two family members were searched they had 4ozes of crack cocaine between the two of them stuffed in the crotches of their underwear. We were all arrested and charged. The family members pleaded with the cops the prosecuting attorney, the judge, to let me go as I had no knowledge what they had. The prosecutors idea of a compromise was to have me plead guilty to misdeameanor disorderly conduct, possession of a mariujana roach that was in the back of the ashtray of the car that could have been there for years (I dont smoke or do any drugs and never have). They got five year sentences, I served two years on probation, which is where things get crazy. I moved to Texas immedietly after sentencing and had my probation transferred. I spent my two years on probation with no problem. My probation officer ended up being a really straight guy who knew that I was a victim of circumstances. Since 1993 I have never been in any kind of trouble, I have never even gotten a traffic violation in 16 years. I was working at a banking institution in a new city I moved to for an excellent job, (I did finish my degree in Graphic Design and received a masters in corporate communications. I am also the mother of four beautiful girls.) and after being their for 4 months, i was escorted out of the building because I had 2 felonies……what, I had misdemeanor disorderly conduct. No..the state of NJ, violated me 4 months into my probation in 1993, because they said I did not submit to drug testing. I was never asked to submit to a drug test..ever. So after so many years of being listed as in violation of probation they gave me felonies in place. I have operated for 15 years thinking I had a disorderly conduct charge. Now I know what this stigma means. I can not pay off $80,000 worth of student loans, and every other problem that comes with this. I have lived in a small college town for the last 12 years and knew anyone that I worked with so background checks were not carried out or only back 10 years. But now I am here, and really stuck. I have to support my girls and if that means joining the national guard as I am not 40 years old is seemly my only option.

  28. Responding to Sarah, I did follow your story I think. You seem to be an eccentric and driven individual that can accomplish anything, raising 4 girls albeit! Your unfortunate happenstance in NY on way to a funeral with your family seems a million to one dose of bad luck. I guess 4 ounces of crack during a time when Im sure it was thought this drug would escalate further from its peak devastation in the late eighties and become a nationwide epidemic by many people especially ones in courtrooms and in badges whom dealt with the drug’s wrath everyday, was a BIG problem. These officials who determine our fate when we land in life’s tiny corners, are trained to see only blank faces- black and white -just the law or else become subject to naivety. Anything outstanding and positive about you is recorded when you are defending yourself but this is just a dog and pony show. These officials have developed a trained ear so to prevent from being persuaded or influenced from the facts only. You having many layers many ambitions and pride in meeting your own expectations set forth by you only probably makes it even more difficult for you to understand.
    I know of the weight you carry and what being asked to leave the premises of your new job feels like. I STILL CONSIDER MYSELF BLESSED AS I know you feel the same. I think leaving for Texas was a very smart decision on your part and the small college town comment made me smile. I have all the faith that you have the gifts and grit to overcome this adversity from the ancient past. I am dealing with a bad decision at the age of 18 (13 years ago) in which I befriended an eccentric, however he was also a thief.
    The motor vehicle dealer board and the ARRT have ruled in my favor of deserving a chance to redeem what a public record has tarnished for so long allowing me a chance to at least apply for employment in their respective governing fields. However this only came after persistence, perseverance, candidness, anxiety, and disappointment. There are officials, leaders, directors, sergeants, etc. out there who believe in others and are without insecurities that cause them to relegate anyone with a disadvantage in society to the exit door proudly. I have 2 years of age eligibility left to carry on a 3 generation family commitment to serve in the US Navy. We are waiting to see if 12 years of no charges/convictions outside minor traffic violations is ample time to suffice for the honorable privilege to work as an officer of the US Navy. Good luck to you and your family Sarah.

  29. I’m glad i found this site, everyone is to down to earth, and i feel the same pain as every one else. I am researching also because I have 3 felonies charges from 1 incident at age 16, I am now 28 years old and would like a career in the Army. I broke into a house with some friends one day, no one was ever hurt during or anytime of the event. There was jewelry and a gun that was stolen from the house which was recovered was we were arrested. I was a good kid with a good family and never even had a reason to break into anybodies house. At the time I was a follower, a good kid just wanting fit in with the dangerous crowd and get street credit, young and dumb.
    I now have 4 kids and was doing great working for a contract company making a great living, until April of this year when the contract got discontinued. Before that contract job all my other jobs were minimal wage and stressful conditions so I really lucked out when hire by the contract company as an employee they didn’t care as long as work was getting done.
    I also even obtained a AAS in Computer Electronics, during my 40+ hour work weeks. Only to be discourage when applying for jobs, because of my background. I am not a career criminal looking to rob and rip off everything in site I feel this is a type of discrimination, it contradicts that jail and other disciplinary actions are to rehabilitate.
    It is somewhat ridiculous that people like me are outcasted from joining society, when many of were just young and dumb. Me personally I don’t feel as though I am an Ex-con, felon, or criminal, because of something

  30. HELLO,I’M A CONVICTED FELON AND I WOULDN’T FIGHT FOR A COUNTRY THAT’S FILLED WITH A BUNCH OF WHINING BUTT-HOLES THAT CAN CARE LESS ABOUT PEOPLE WITH FELONIES AGAINST THEM.WAIT TILL YOUR SON OR DAUGHTER GETS A FELONY BECAUSE THERE NOT THE INNOCENT CHILD YOU THOUGHT THEY WAS AND SEE HOW YOU FEEL THEN.

  31. hope for change

    I am a convicted felon from over 10 years ago… Some of america thinks felons are “bad people”. I have since cleaning up my 19 year old act, served as a volunteer firefighter for three years (medical, structure entry, wildland, wildland urban interface, and the leader of the department for technical rope rescue) until injured, completed my ged and moved on to college which I also completed, and now have a family and when my neighbors were told by me that I was a felon they lost all fear and realized that what most people did even 5 years ago really should not define the rest of their life! So I will leave it up to you all to make a change if you think it is warranted… “Should I really judge every person on the felon list like the armed robber that killed five people “, or “you know I heard of this great guy that was stupid at nineteen years old and grabed some stuff from someones house while they were not home”. P.S. If I treated you bloody in a car accident, or pulled you out of your burning house maybe I should have told you I was a felon and you might have refused my help just like if I was defending your freedom overseas being shot at while you are sleeping!!!!

  32. I had not completed my probation back in 1998; I was charged with felony burglary and given a suspended punishment jail time was suppose to finish three years probation. I haven’t been in trouble since except I received some traffic violations and they were all dismissed with no criminal record. The reason I left was simply because I was young and ignorant and didn’t realized what I was doing (lapse of judgment). Once on probation I was doing perfectly fine working etc. abiding my probation rules. Looking back I was very influential trying to fit in with the crowd to be cool. Stupid Stupid!

    I got into a relationship that turned sour and said to myself I can’t be here anymore and left and never went back.. I have lived with this fear of screwing up ever since I don’t know what to do.
    I have been saving up for a lawyer to try to resolve this but don’t know where to start.

    I needed to change my life… The mistakes I have made do not define my character. I admit I was lost in life from about 16 years-22years old. I was raised to work hard work and respect others but my family life wasn’t ideal, my parents divorced I grew in living two separate lives. I was always a quiet kid on the honor roll stayed out of trouble until I started hanging around with the wrong crowd doing silly kid stuff trying to be cool.
    Here it goes… after repetitive times starting over and losing all I had I decided one day to take a chance and try to enter the military “seeking the ultimate challenge to prove to myself and society that I am not a bad person” I entered the military, and after a year or so passed after basic and training they ran my record and found that I had a felony.

    I was charged with falsifying a government document and was busted down then loosing rank and getting a article 15 and was almost kicked out because of force shaping (drawdown of forces) but again my CO did not want to kick me out because of my character and work ethic and stated I would be an asset based simply on my work ethic and characters references.. Since then I have progressed superbly without any more trouble and won many awards and received an achievement medal after serving a 2 tours in IRAQ. The military is fully aware, i was interview by many federal agents at the time. But i recently return from down range and when i went through customs they pulled me aside and was informed me that i had a record and a warrant for probation violation. What is my next step, I really want to resolve this I am scared but realize this needs to be done.

  33. A Marine is who i am never wanted to be anything more, After severing a honorable tour. I worked as youth counselor in a lock down facility. Moved to Colorado for 3mo w/Ex and received a Domestic violence. I was looked at as a Animal with military experience. Since then Ive been married to a lady that saw and stood with me thou the whole ordeal. 12yr later still Married, Unemployed Auto worker(Great $$$$)No criminal record since.. Only job that will take me is the Military…..Even 12yr later college degree or not..uhh you criminal record banish you hinders you trumped up or not.. Last resort Military…….

  34. so im trying to understand that with a felony,and a suspended license ,i still have the option of joining the military?please someone enlighten me on this subject.i need some amswers,life is’nt going my way..30 years old and my felony was when i was 19..do i have a chance to join the military?please help

  35. hi, i am a convicted felon and have served a term in state prison, I was arrested as a teenager, and had a very troubled life before that. I have since tried to be the best person I can and have always wanted to be in the military. Call it a dream if you will. I am now 32 and my parole is almost over. I have a wife and kids, and want to know if anyone thinks I shouldn’t go to the army because I would be the “lower standard” that is talked about. I am in prime physical condition, I’ll pass with flying colors any test put in front of me, and it would be my life on the line given freely for those who choose not to enlist.
    My question is, why not let me have a structured enviornment with rules and responsibility to guide my life in a more positive way. I want something in my life to be proud of, something that I gave for reason, not by emotion or folly.

  36. I too have a question about the criminal background! Im turning 19 next month and would like to join the military but i have both juvenile and adult records. When i was 16 I was with the wrong crowd and broke into a house they gave me mulitple felonies got a year of probation and most of the charges ajudicated and didnt get in anymore trouble until a few months ago, I got a DUI at the age of 18. Ive been looking on many sites but cant seem to get a concrete answer can anyone please help?

  37. I was in the ARNG CA for 2 years. Full of felons and people that do not belong there. Frustrated, I left it. We had drugs, alc, thefts and so many assaults that a general burned my unit and staff for complaints. The guard needs a reform, kick out troublemakers, promote good troops. A draft of college grads would not be bad either.

  38. It’s sad to see that the majority of society has a tendency to be quick to pass judgement on other “American Citizens” who have made mistakes and been convicted of a felony.Especially when a lot of those people who have made wrong decisions have in fact truly changed and want to better themselves and their lives.And by what better way than wanting to redeem theirselves by wanting to serve “Our Country” and put their own life on the line for those of you whom judge without taking a good look at the person in the mirror.Granted there are those ex-felons and still active felons who continue committing crimes whom just seem not to care or have any remorse whatsoever,and have no respect or regard for the law and human life.But still that does’nt make it right for anyone to pass judgement and say all ex-felons are the same and are bad people.That’s why certain military branches are taking a good look at ex-felons on an individual basis before actually enlisting them,as is stated.Society should have the same human decency and do the same instead of continuously kicking a struggling human being whom is already down and is desperately trying to get back up and make a new start.Just that in itself should speak volumes.All I’m saying is people that are truly deserving and worthy should at least be given a fair shot at proving themselves.You never know…it might be someone like me who saves your life or one of your loved one’s life.”Semper Fi.”God Bless America!

  39. No one deserves a second chance and shall be punished for eternity. Great and now we have created another problem which will continue to grow. Thanks.

  40. Sure is a lot of complaining about ex-felons in the military these days. Personally, this country would be better off if we actually allowed a ‘second chance’ to our ex-felons. Why? Because while you are sooo scared these people will be out to get you, you thus bar them from ever having a second chance, and you are actually adding to the criminal problem in this country by doing so! Background checks and so-forth BARS individuals from gaining employment: from becoming decent members of our society. WHATS LEFT FOR THEM? A life of gangs, drugs, crime, etc… Well, its no wonder you all are scared of the big bad ex-felon..I would be to if I was playing God over thier lives and second chances at success. “Lets give them nothing”, is a bunch of self-righteous boo-boo! SO FEAR THE EX-FELONS!! FEAR US!! WE HAVE ONLY WHAT YOU HAVE GIVEN US – A LOWER PLACE IN YOUR WORLD!! FEAR US LITTLE PEOPLE…REAP WHAT YOU HAVE SOWN!!!! HAHAHA!!

  41. Pingback: Convicted felons allowed to enlist « A Soldier's Perspective

  42. It amazes me everyday that ex-felons are not given a second chance in life,instead they make a mistake and pay there debt to society,and are still labeled felons the rest of there life.For God gives us many chances in our life’s to make things right when we screw up and make mistakes,that’s the difference between Us and God. God is the only one who knows the TRUE meaning of forgiveness,as well as love and compassion. Enough said !!!!

  43. Coming across this website makes me realize that Ive been screwed by the recruiters here throughout SAN ANTONIO,TEXAS. I dont have a felony at all not one. Nothing close to what some of you have gone through. I have a few misdemeanors and have been denied multiple times. From the Army, Army reserves, Army National Gaurd, Navy, Marines, theres no point trying to contact the AirForce, get the picture. I have literally been to all of these branches, willing to do anything. And have been discraced and belittled in front of strangers when I mention to the recriuters that I have a record. And I have a college degree from an accredited school but who cares right, some have even laughed when I mentioned this.They might as well of just given me an open handed slap across the face. Never been to jail, prison, or any time all but who cares right? Cant seem to get a decent job to survive on either because of my misdemeanors. Really whats going on? All these infractions are over 15 years old. This is so unfair and unconstitutional. But who are we to say anything right? Just curious where have some of you entered the Military through, what area of the country?

  44. There are 2 types of people, those who get caught, and those who don’t.

    My dad tells stories of youthful indiscretions he had, yet he served this country for 33 years. Master-chief in 12 years.

    For those of you who judge, take a look at your past. EVERYBODY has broken laws, and most people commit felonies daily. Just because you are slick, doesn’t make you a good person or any less of a scumbag. In fact, it shows just how little integrity you really have considering you haven’t paid your debt to society.

  45. I am on probation drug court and i am in aftercare. Does anyone know if they will let me have my tummy tuck surgery now?

  46. I was charged with emblezzlement a first time offender. I havent went to court yet and i was wondering when i get this charged reduced can i enlist in the military (air force). I am a single papernt and is attending college. I need to better myself and my child I MADE A MISTAKE in my past and now it is catching up with me. What am I to do??????????

  47. Why is everyone talking about they made a mistake, everyone makes mistakes, and your situations are no greater that persons who really, really have had it bad. I am very tired of you 19 year olds wanting a free pass. Most say you are grown they you are grown when you made your so called mistake. If you expect to get a free pass, then allow other innocent people go free, and you better not complain thinking you are better than others because the military gave you a pass. So many hipocrites out here

  48. The first time offender for embezzlement is a joke! It is your first time being caught, once a criminal all ways a criminal. Why? are you making this crime less than what it is…It is what it is you are an embezzler. If the military continues to allow criminals come in the military, they come in thinking they are so santimonious and start being something they are not. It’s the “power” complex for someone allowing you to come in and be over others who do not have a record. I say, and will say this again, stop being such phony people. You are no better than anyone, only you are criminals, and others are decent honest people, and you’re hiding behind those faces.

  49. I served in the Marine Corps back in the ’70s. It turned my life around. Things were different back then. A lot more drugs and wavers because this country had ended the draft only a couple of years earlier and a lot of people were still shying away from the military because of Vietnam. I will admit that I did a lot of things that if I got caught, would have made me a felon several times over before I got away from that scene and got serious about taking care of my responsibilities. The Corps taught me that. I chaffed under it a lot, but it gave me a work ethic which has served me well all of my life.

    I have a son. His mother and I divorced when he was a kid. He was shy and introverted. That meant bullies came out of the woodwork to mess with him at school. I kept telling him that he needed to fight or that crap would never end. One day, he got pushed to far and had the audacity to fight back against a guy who was a foot taller and 40 pounds heavier. My son fought with everything he had and actually came out on top of the fight. You know what happened? The bully and his friends told the school administration that my son started it and they called the cops and had my son charged with assault and battery. That bully had a history of hassling younger kids, but the school had a ‘no tolerance’ policy when it came to violence, so my son got charged. Even the arresting officers were ticked off with the school administration bringing them in on this. End result, my son was expelled and convicted of misdemeanor battery. He wanted to enlist in the Air Force, but couldn’t because of his juvenile criminal record. He finally was able to enlist in the Army, but only with a waiver. He had outstanding ASVAB scores, but couldn’t get an enlistment bonus and was excluded from certain job specialties because of it. The whole thing made me laugh. The military wants to recruit people who have never so much as been in a fistfight, then expects them after a few months of training to fight an extended war and kill people. No wonder we have so much PTSD from our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  50. @Feb How dare you speak like that, like you are somehow above making mistakes, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nobody is perfect and just because of a couple of past indiscrections when someone was far less mature than they are now should not bar them from serving their country. Oh and ‘once a criminal always a criminal’ that’s the biggest ration of shite I’ve ever heard. I have been in trouble twice in my life, once when I was 18 and again when I was 20. I am now 25 years old, I have a steady job, my own place and I pay my taxes. I haven’t been in trouble for over five years, and won’t be getting in anymore trouble short of maybe a parking ticket. People make mistakes but it does not define their character. I don’t know who did what to make you so bitter and angry, but let it go and understand people do change, and for the most part (well, minus you) are actually decent

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  52. Cheryl Rodriguez

    I think the armed forces SHOULD accept SOME convicted felons, as each has its own set of circumstances. Also, not every convicted person is “guilty” of the crime of which they ARE convicted! Our system is set up so that you are NOT actually considered innocent until proven guilty…which is evident in the fact that people are incarcerated for lengths of time during which they lose their jobs, homes, families, etc….far before they are tried and “proven” guilty! Therefore, many innocent people plea out to convictions just to get out of the “spider-web” of a system and to try to pull their lives back together, rather than languish for unreasonable lengths of time in a jail and/or prison. Furthermore, with so many questionable “wars” that the US enters, our nation should be thankful that ANYone is willing to put their lives on the line to fight! I am 100% in favor of the military accepting people with certain felony convictions!

  53. I totally agree with Ms. Rodriguez. Some convicted felons should be allowed to enlist in the US military armed forced. The reality is that the majority of arrests and incarcerations in this country are of men (*women) of color. And, before some self-righteous tea party right winger goes off in an “I told you so tangent”, it’s NOT because black & Hispanic men commit more crimes. White men do the same things, but they get passes/breaks by white cops, are afforded access to better attorneys (i.e., penalty for cocaine use/sale is different & less harsh than for crack, etc.). It’s about the diverse socio-economic dynamics of our communities. Consequently, once they’ve been incarcerated & released, society isolates & brands them. They can’t find employment, so… the cycle begins & repeats itself, over & over. Not ALL felons are criminals… many of them want, need, & deserve the opportunity to improve themselves & their circumstances, & to become viable contributors to our society. The military teaches them self-control & discipline, gives them the opportunity to go to school & learn a trade or a profession. Regarding giving ALL Americans (even those who may have gone astray early in their lives) a chance to serve, I say, “Hoo-Rah!”

  54. i am a felon, i have made horrible choices in my life that held a high cost. i can’t even take my kids to school because of drinking and drugs. fortunantely i cleaned up my life but i still have this haunting past and am stuck in a dead in job and want to do something better with my life. i have been trying to find out more about whether it is possible for felons to join some kind of military service to improve my life

    • Koni,

      Congrats on cleaning up your life. You should be proud!

      Have you talked with the local recruiters? Unfortunately, the military is going through a rough time and all of the branches are downsizing. That said, it wouldn’t hurt to see what a recruiter could do for you.

  55. Well fuck the Military!!!!! A person who wants to serve his country and is willing to die for it is not good enough because of past mistakes?

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  57. I got mixed feelings about this. From what I understand, the reason the military doesn’t like to take convicted felons or non-high school graduates because they have traditionally done poorly with more discipline problems and lousy evaluations when they did serve in the past. I know of 5 or 6 people who got into trouble as juveniles or as young adults who didn’t graduate from high school and normally wouldn’t have had a chance to enlist, but managed to join up in 2005-2008 because the Army really needed warm bodies to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and the recruiters were desperate. Two of them were honorably discharged after serving and the rest were either given unsuitability or less than honorable discharges within 1-2 years because they couldn’t conform. I do know that one of those who was honorably discharged told me that the Army getting and keeping him out of his neighborhood was what helped turn his life around more than anything else. I know what he’s talking about because I’ve seen it happen when some guy comes back to the bad neighborhood where he grew up after being away for a while, then reverts back to the person he was before he left and gets back into trouble. Kind of like at a high school reunion where people revert back to the personalities they were in high school. I honestly don’t know how to judge this. There are people who are convicted felons who would probably thrive and do well in the military, but are there enough of them to make it worthwhile or would most of them be getting BCD?

    What I would like to see is some kind of quasi-military bootcamp for people with specific felony convictions (no child molesters, rapists, etc.) which would be like Marine Corps Recruit Training, only tougher and longer where if you got through that and with the recommendations of the instructors, then you could be allowed enlist in specific branches of the military. If you want it badly enough…

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