Balancing Your Strengths Against Your Felonies: Considerations for Military Recruitment of Ex-Offenders

by Michael Boucai September 1, 2007

In 2007, the Palm Center released a study showing that the number of convicted felons who enlisted in the U.S. military had almost doubled in the previous three years.  At the same time that the military was filling shortfalls by admitting ex-convicts, substance abusers and high school dropouts and by relaxing standards for test scores and age and weight restrictions, it was firing highly trained gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

In 2008, the Palm Center followed the release of the 2007 study by working with the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to compel the Pentagon to release data showing that in 2006 and 2007, Americans who were convicted of serious crimes including sexual offences, manslaughter, “terrorist threats including bomb threats”, burglary, kidnapping or abduction, aggravated assault and sexual assault were allowed into the military. Both the 2007 study and the 2008 release of data attracted widespread media attention.  A full list of the waivers listed by offense and by service is here.