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Allow Incarcerated Americans To Serve In Army For Sentence Forgiveness

With recruitment for the US Army and Marines now at only 57% of target, it may be time to look at a form of policy that existed in the 50s and 60s--miliary service an option to jail time.
There are currently over 2.1 million people incarcerated in US prisons. Approximately 1/4 of that population is incarcertated for what could be considered minor drug and petty theft crimes. Such is the legacy of the "war on drugs" and controversial mandatory sentencing laws like California's "three strikes."

Prisons are overcrowded and the costs to the taxpayer of housing inmates and building additional prisons is a major strain on state and local budgets. Perhaps even more alarming is the rate of repeat offenders which suggests that the US prison system and a form of "rehabilitation" is ineffective.

Does it not make sense for the US government to revisit a policy of sentence forgiveness for active military service? Would such a program be more successful for rehabilitation of minor criminals, like those who end up getting long-term sentences in California because shop-lifting or a DUI violated the three strikes law?

Such service would be discretionary for these men and women, so no inmate would be forced to give up incarceration for military service. While from a civil rights point of view, it may not seem like much of a choice, but service in lieu of incarceration seems more fair than a 20 year sentence for smoking a joint. The military could also provide skills and discipline that many of these unfortunate individuals never had.

Such a program would also benefit the US taxpayer because it would provide provide a reallocation of expenses away from the prison system and to the military, thus having a neutral effect on government budgets. The program would also relieve stress on National Guard units serving multiple tours of duty in Iraq and reunite them with their loved ones. Politically it would be popular because it would relieve pressure for a draft. Conservative fanatics could not say they the program allows victims of "reefer madness" or cleptomania back on the streets, because these soldiers would be required to perform their service in hazardous areas. They would also be kept in the same units for a period of time and subject to special counseling and group therapy until cleared by a military psychologist for regular duty.

Such a program I will be presenting to members of government and the military for consideration. It is not in any way meant to endorse a continuing presence in Iraq or the "war on terror," which I personally consider a farce. It is meant provide policy makers with an alternative to a draft, help our soldiers who are stuck in Iraq (and their families), help people who I believe have been given cruel and unfair sentences for their crimes, and propose a wiser use of tax dollars than simply borrowing more and more to build the military ranks.

Comments both positive and negative would be appriciated. Thank you.

homepage: homepage: http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/prisons.htm

Prison Industrial Complex 04.Jun.2005 13:28


Yes, this is precisely the NWO plan. With economic collapse millions more will enter the criminal underclass and be imprisoned for everything from petty theft to bankruptcy. Then the government will have an endless supply of conscripts.

This article sounds suspiciously like NWO propaganda.

I think... 04.Jun.2005 13:32

that you Ted...

are trying to scare people.

I do have a question: What about "prisoners" who never should have been in "jail" to begin with, and that is well-known? Trying to heap punishment on top of injustice?

Or, do you just have no other way to attain what you need to profit and survive?

How about some jail or service from you? Around three years ought to do it.

Not propaganda 04.Jun.2005 14:01

Marty R Domm

If you could prevent such a system from being abused, I think its a good idea. If these guys are willing to do 9-11 to get control of middle east resources, they would certainly not hesitate to conjure up another "emergency" to justify the draft.

Re: a form of policy that existed in the 50s and 60s 04.Jun.2005 14:22


When I was in the Army, during the 80's, some of the enlisted folks that I encountered WERE in the ranks as an alternative to incarceration. One such person was a friend of mine, and he was serving in the military as an alternative to jail time, for hitting a cop in NYC.

As far as I know, this is still the case. I wonder why the author believes that this practice ended in the 60s?

Anyways, what good fortune it would be for the recruitment challenged chicken-hawks to round up dissenters and compel them to join the military.

Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad thing. The new conscripts could wage an education campaign from within the MIC, and begin to re-orient the guns in a more appropriate direction.

This looks like an Astro-Turf campaign.mil. I would like to volunteer Ted for front-line service in the Imperial Terrorist Armed Forces Colossus that our tax dollars have created. I'll be right behind you, Ted ;-)

Great idea... 04.Jun.2005 14:53


Yes, and then maybe we can have them pick crops for us, or maybe dig ditches, or sew our garments. If that doesn't work out, maybe we could allow them to participate in medical experiments. You know there are lots of new drugs and surgical procedures out there that could save the lives of good, decent, upstanding citizens if only we could just work out the bugs on some lower life form. Animals are really great fun and all, but like, animal studies are usually irrelevant to humans. Just think how many lives we could save, if only we could start experimenting on prisoners.

Of course, it would all be strictly "voluntary," so what could possibly be wrong with that?

i saw this 04.Jun.2005 15:20

#346 (draft number)

Arrested for pot in 1972, I walked into court with a great atty.. The poor dudes ahead of me were getting 6 months or join the marines. Even though my case was dropped it's still on my fbi record.

urgh 04.Jun.2005 15:23


you racist fool

What A Great Idea? 04.Jun.2005 16:23


Would murderers get first preference? It would be the SMART thing to do since they already have the skills required to serve in the Arbusto Junta's foreign adventures. Ted, you sound like a natural recruiter and the bonus money wouldn't be bad either. You could buy even stronger meds with it.

Are you serious???? 04.Jun.2005 19:18


So let me get this straight....you want to take a bunch of prisoners, put guns in their hands and teach them how to kill (in case they don't already know how)? And this is somehow a good idea, because it will teach them "skills" and "responsibility"??? As if warmaking is some sort of contribution to society. Sheesh. I think NOT.

Reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's "Alice's Restaurant" in the Vietnam days. Does anyone remember Alice's Restaurant? Arlo gets called up by the draft board, and as he was previously arrested for littering, they put him on the Group W bench with all the hardened criminals. And then Arlo goes in to the induction office and jumps up and down screaming "Kill, kill, I wanna kill, I want to see blood & gore & guts & dead burnt bodies". And then the sergeant pats him on the back and says "You're our boy."

putz 04.Jun.2005 20:00

putz no more

Bow to our image of GOD or get sent to the lions den.

How many prisons could have been built with the cash spent on Bush's war?

And murderers being let free to do thier thing would just inflame more violence. Unless you really do think that the resistance fighters are sacrificing thier lives because they hate freedom and democracy, then go for it

Soldier factories 04.Jun.2005 23:42


Ted's missing the supply side... The "volunteers" for Pentagon roulette free up prison space for more cultural cleansing. Sort of solves the "undesirable problem": get them incarcerated, then squeeze them into the expanded military as expendable felons, to "bring democracy" to a growing number of places.

Ollie North would say "it's a neat idea."

This scenario doesn't quite square with one of Ted's arguing points: that "the US taxpayer" would benefit from reduced prison/industrial population. But maybe an assembly line of "undesireables" from incarceration to imperial foot soldiers (don't count on the group therapy sessions or skill training) would get us more oil, which is also a selling point to "the US taxpayer", eh Ted?

this is how it's going to be done teddy 05.Jun.2005 05:53

U. Sam

Since we no longer control our country, aipac is calling the shots now. According to them, draft is no good.

Mandatory military for all, just like israel. You know, it builds character and subservience.

But we're promising thousands of ugandans(and other mercenaries) american citizenship if they go test land mines for us in Iraq and fight in our glorious imperial army, so we really don't need "citizens of the empire" to join. We have plenty of cannon fodder from the countries we invade.

Can you see it? The vision. A global army of stormtroopers, a global village, a global union, peace for all, a new world order. Yes, yes, I can see it, now step aside or you will feel the wrath of american freedom.

OK! OK! ...Bad idea... I was just... 05.Jun.2005 09:20


First of all, the concept of such a system being abused did not escape me. There was an implicit assumption, which I thought I addressed by disclaiming Iraq policy and the "war on terror" which I labeled a "farce." I did so because I am fully aware Afghanistan and Iraq are just pieces of the "global chessboard" (I liken it more to a game of Risk) so coveted by the likes of Zbig Brezinski and David Rockefeller. This is about military preeminence and control of global resources. I know that.

So think about it. The Neocons are not going to let a lack of fresh meat deter this strategy. For the deep conspiracists out there, if both Repubs and Dems have the same agenda, it must be a matter of time before a draft is reinstated.


I also made it very clear that such a program was only meant to remove pressure for the draft. I also said that about 500,000 of America's prison population is incarcerated for minor drug and other offenses. I would never suggest taking violent criminals out of prison and training them to kill.

What I am saying is that, if I was a troubled kid facing 20 years in jail because I shoplifted a Brittney Spears CD for strike 3 in California, I'd sure as hell rather spend 4 years in the Army than the next 20 years in the state pen. This might be a more palatable way for the fearful masses in this cruel justice system to forgive these people. They may also prove to be excellent in military service, rejoin society, and do so with a much lower rate of recidivism. That would provide a shining example for how poor our correctional system is.

Hey Teddy..... 05.Jun.2005 18:39


I can see from your posts that you aren't sincere. However, you analysis of the situation is.....eskew.

The 500,000 Americans you speak of are victims. Sending some black kid from a economically depressed community
to fight for BP/ARCO/EvilOil Inc. oil rights is WRONG AS WELL.

Here is the sitch. NO ONE should be fighting this war. If you don't want you kids to be drafted FIGHT BACK GOD DAMMIT! Excuse me if I am a bit irritated but your suggesting that we turn a oppressed class of people over to the wolves to be abused once again so your children can be spared is exactly the thinking that got us here.

Here is what you need to do if you don't want your kids to be drafted. When the draft card comes BURN THE FUCKER!
When they come for your kids, call me, I will stand at your door with a hundred other people (some of them the people that you would have sent off in their place) and they will have to drag us off first. (Don't doubt it
I WILL do it!) There is no diplomatic solution to maddness, your going to have to get your hands dirty.

I say this will all due respect. Your kids have a RIGHT to live peacebly as every one else does. Unfortunatly
the barbarians are at the gate.

An Army of Disenfranchised Black Folk. 05.Jun.2005 23:50


An Army of Disenfranchised Black FolkThis is insane. You see, the roots of the criminal justice system are rotten. The idea that prisoners (a vast amount of them in for minor, non-violent drug-offences) would rather spend four years in service as opposed to ten years in lock-up is a given, I would think. The reality is that we would see an overwhelming majority of african americans being forced into a war to protect the coffers of a handfull of rich, dominating individuals who are already partly responsible for the inherently racist, abusive and unjust system we know here in the american criminal justice system. Let's not kid ourselves. A culture of recidivism and crime is in place in this country to an extent that the system itself now requires the mass incarceration of its own citezens to perpetuate the cycle of fear, misinformation, control and dominance. It's fairly obvious to me that the relationship between private corporations, the military industrial complex, the prison industrial complex and the government will continue to thrive until the lifeblood of our people (americans) is thinned to the point of complacency. The fact that there are almost 2.2 million people in the system should speak loud and clear to anyone concerned about the direction of this country. Your own chances of entering this system (if you aren't already part of it) are getting better every day. If you think these fellas with 'power' are wringing there hands in sadness, trying to do anything to make YOUR world a better place, you'd better think again. I can understand the appeal of sending convicts to war, on some level. The idea that they might 'redeem' themselves in the face of the society that condemned them to a cell for, let's say, smoking pot. I can also understand the idea of needing a scapegoat in society. Someone to blame, however subconsciously, for the crimes we know we've all committed. Don't kid yourself:) This makes criminals the bottom rung on the ladder of people we're willing to sacrifice for a false sense of accomoplishment. I mean, they'd be all rehabilitated and such in the military, right? Well, I'm not buying it. People aren't in prison because they need to be in the army. This is not a valid offer of rehabilitation for these men. Until they have that choice, how dare we even entertain the thought of teaching them how to


Right on, Bison 06.Jun.2005 20:02


"If you don't want you kids to be drafted FIGHT BACK GOD DAMMIT!"


We're all in this together. Better to realize that than to waste time and energy trying to sell each other out to the oppressor for a few more comfortable illusions.

Teddy speaks on Realism vs Idealism 06.Jun.2005 21:40


Het Catwoman, Bison, et al.,

I agree with you. I think one thing that the left needs to learn, however, is how to win battles in order to win a war. That would be the war against fascism and economic injustice in this country. Frankly, I don't see how the idealist stance has advanced the progressive agenda one bit. I can see how the realistic agenda of opening one door that leads to another does lead to advancement. I would offer the entire ordeal of MLK Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement of the late 60s as evidence of this.

And, quite frankly, I think it is the lack of the left's ability to engage in this kind of "bite and hold" (to cite a WWI cliche) strategy. We keep swinging for the home run against the Right's most vicious and predictable pitch. The ideal is no longer a legitimate short-term goal. Sorry, but that's just a reality alert. I was swinging for the ideal during the Clinton years, but few "progressives" really gave a shit, because the threat was not so obvious. It's time to wake up and smell the coffe, folks... The USA is no longer a democracy, it is a fascist state looking to advance its agenda with every loophole and weakness there is to exploit.

Freedom or Jail 22.Aug.2005 21:20

w hingerty hingerty@verizon.net

Its obvious you have never done time. Prisons are already full of vets. A grateful nation. So if you are too immoral to live in our society without codeine or reefer, you can die or get your legs blown off. Once again the democrats fight the wars the republicans start. THERE are no republicans in foxholes.