Need more recruits for Iraq? Take more criminals

Nearly 12 percent of the Army's 2006 recruits had criminal histories.

By Tim Grieve
Published February 14, 2007 2:00PM (EST)

The U.S. Army exceeded its recruitment goals for January, the eighth month in a row in which it has hit the numbers expected of it. One reason for this newfound success? The Army is accepting more and more recruits with criminal histories.

As the New York Times reports, the number of criminal-background "waivers" granted to recruits has grown by about 65 percent in the last three years. The Times says that the "sharpest increase" has come in waivers for "serious misdemeanors" -- crimes like aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

The good news: As the Times explains, "soldiers with criminal histories made up only" -- only! -- "11.7 percent of the Army recruits in 2006."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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