Critique this idea for using prisoners in the US armed forces, please

Simply put, I see no problem with allowing certain types of prisoners (there’s the main rub, y’see) to serve in the US military and, with a certain amount of service or X promotions, the commutal of their sentence.

There are caveats, of course. Someone with nothing to lose by shooting him- or herself first chance s/he gets should not be enlisted. For someone who’s in jail for an extended period of time for a victimless crime (such as, IIRC, the possession of X grams of certain drugs with the intent to distribute), it could be an excellent way out. The main details I’m trying to figure out are how one would assimilate them into the army, how long they’d have to serve or how many promotions in rank they’d have to get to be free citizens again (or, now that I think of it, have their sentence substantially shortened), provisions of the GI Bill, etc.


I once posed this same idea to a recruiter I know, and he growled, “The Army is not a reform school! We don’t want your rejects!”

A person who has a problem with authority or responsibility would do poorly in the Army. For the idea to work, it would have to be made clear to the inmate/recruits that if they “flunked out” they would have to serve out their prison sentance.

I would say that it would only work for, as you say, victimless, or non-violent crimes, but what about those offenders who are not physically fit enough to be in the Army? An overweight, retarded, or physically disabled person wouldn’t be able to sign up, and instead have to serve their sentance behind bars. Would this be considered discrimination? What about people with a drug addiction? The Army, as far as I know, does not have a detox program.

Perhaps a civilian corps would be a better idea than the army. Require physical training which would be tailored to each “recruit’s” abilities, and give them jobs, such as the WPA had back in the 'Thirties, or what the National Guard does today. They could work for Habitat for Humanity, for example, or help build earthen dams to prevent flooding. Those unable to do the physical labor could help with record keeping, or other jobs suited to their abilities.

As to the length of their commitment, I’m not sure. Working to better the lives of their fellow man should count for something.

Sitting in a prison cell does no one any good, and costs the state a lot of money. Whether they’re working or not, you still need to pay for their clothing, food and medical care. This program may cost more, but would do much good, and teach the inmates valuable job skills.

Perhaps they could be housed in buildings which would be able to be taken apart and moved to the next location once a project was completed, but still be sturdy enough to provide protection from the weather. I’m sure that cost-saving measures could be implimented.

Less guards would be needed because these would be “honor” inmates, ones that have a low risk of flight. Any violence, or misbehavior would result in being sent to prison to serve out the rest of their sentance.

A lot of the projects that the inmates would be working on would be paid for by the state anyway, and using inmate labor, rather than paying an expensive civilian force may equal itself out.

Source: Amendment VIII, US Constitution

Have you considered this potential roadblock?

I don’t think a work-release program could be considered “cruel and unusual.” If anything, it’s beneficial and lenient, to both the inmate and the state.

Inmates work “on the inside.” A job is not a requirement, but a lot of them want to have one in order to be able to purchase things from the commisary. An indigent inmate only recieves minimal supplies, such as a bar of soap, and a tube of toothpaste, rather than being able to buy chips and soda.

They also already work “on the outside.” I see inmate work crews picking up trash along the roads all the time. Some states have outside industries for inmates. Some prisons have farms which are run by the inmates.

I think that given the choice (this program would have to be voluntary) most inmates would prefer to be outside the bars, working in the warm sunshine, and earning money that will help him build a new life when he is released, than sitting in a grey prison cell with a murderer as a room mate. (I’d say this program should pay at least minimum wage.) Not to mention the valuable job skills that it would give them.

Judges have offered military service in lieu of jail time many times.

Critique this idea?

Well, since you asked . . .

The U.S. military is a highly professional organization made up of people who applied for the job and managed to be hired. The military has taken the idea of a ‘voluntary’ force much further than people tend to realize, and doesn’t want to be burdened by draftees or involuntary conscripts. Joining the military is no longer the last resort of ne’er-do-wells and losers, and now requires qualifications that most current prisoners couldn’t meet. Ask yourself – do you want to place high-tech weapons systems and the responsibility for defending the nation in the hands of a kid who couldn’t even successfully mug an old lady?

If the prisoners were smart enough to be in the military they wouldn’t be in prison, now would they?


Wellington made great use of criminals who’d joined up to avoid imprisonment, etc, and he kicked Bonaparte’s ass. Of course, back then the only skills a soldier needed was Musket Drill, and Standing in a Pretty Row. Endless practice took care of the first, and being more afraid of your sargeant than you were of the French took care of the second.

I say sighn them all up!! Who is better at killing than criminals?? Why let the genius of Ted Kazynsky go to waste behind bars? Let the unabomber earn his freedom by killing the enemys of democracy. Set all of the Ted Bundys and Jeffrey Dahmers loose on the enemys turf. Serial killers would kill 2 birds with one stone. #1 , they are realy GOOD at killing. Most of them get quite a few victims before they are caught. #2 if they are caught and killed by the enemy, SO WHAT?!? Mose serial killers go to death row or get life in prison anyway. Same goes for drug dealers, especialy if a gun is found on them when they are arrested. Wanna be a “banger or a baller, a shot caller”? Well , grab your tech-9 and your Nike high tops cause its gonna be a long trip. Get your 20lb gold rope necklace too, you can use it for body armor. I am all for emptying the jails onto the battle field. If nothing else it will make room for more convicts and give our soldiers a few fleshy sand bags to use for cover.

I have a serious problem with this.

As a leader, I simply do not want to handle the details of unreliable, questionably motivated troops. Do I want to spend more of my time building airfields, or more of my time chasing after the hooligans that screw up and make problems for themselves and others. Nor do I care to take care of the typical ‘prison’ details such as maintaining non-desertion.

Yeah, desertion plays a big part in my decision.

Criminals are proven miscreants (by the system that is), and I’d be constantly afraid of a lack of discipline within my own ranks. I’d rather deal with the typical day-to-day fuckups of volunteer troops than to have to deal with a misguided, sometimes evasive ‘prisoner’ corps.

Volunteer troops tend to have a lot more reliability than draftees. History has proven this, and my gut feeling reenforces it.

Just my $0.02

They’d all get killed in the attack. What, didn’t you see “The Dirty Dozen”?

Reeder: Care to provide some cites for that, along with the time frame (when it was happening) involved?

And I’ll just ignore Burner’s comments about killing.

Ignore away. Ignorance is bliss after all, or did you have something to add?

I thought that was a normal war recruitment tactic, right up there with conscription & bribery. that happened during the american revolution, criminals were offered freedom if they fought. It happened in the USSR during WW2, criminals were offered freedom if they fought (they were sent back to prison though). Slaves were offered freedom if they fought in the civil war.

Unusual suggestion. Does the U.S. Army build its tanks out of third-grade steel? Then why should it build its soldiers from third-grade materials?

My advice - less lowlifes, more honor students.

Perhaps it was not made clear in my post that all of this would be voluntary. As intense (and rational, IMO) as Tripler’s distaste for this is, it would be made much stronger by the notion of involuntary servitude.

Alessan, if you’re going to suggest that all persons in jail are third-grade materials, I think you might possibly meet up with some rather fierce opposition on that one … including TN*Hippie, who’s done jail time and MsRobyn’s ex-husband, who IIRC is still in jail for a crime he didn’t commit.

Otherwise, Lissa provides a strong alternative, and those who do not meet the physical requirements could most certainly fill desk positions, as are wont to materialize with any such effort.

You must be one mighty happy person, then, Burner.

But since you asked so nicely, I’ll go ahead and not ignore, but address your comments.

There’s a mighty big difference between signing up (volunteering) and sentence to punishment. If there weren’t, then the military wouldn’t need a justice system as everyone in it would already be receiving punishment.

That is not the function of the military. That the actual function of the military entails the death of enemy soldiers does not equate to “the military exists to kill.”

The ability to kill innocent people just for the sake of killing innocent people is neither genius nor the purpose of the military.

Merely being resident in an enemy country does not equate to being a legitimate military target. And again, that the actual function of the military entails the death of enemy soldiers does not equate to “the military exists to kill.”

Please be so kind as to provide some valid cited statistics for this assertion.

There’s the whole issue of humans being humans, but I’m guessing that just escaped you. At any rate, if you have them doing something (or in this case attempting to do something) that you consider necessary, if they get caught then they’re not doing that which you sent them to do.

This statement is so far off of reality, it’s actually hilarious, but in a sad way.

Basically, your posting conveys an attitude that the military is no different (or at least not much different) than a bunch of killers and other criminals.

True, civilians arent legitimate targets, but who said that they had to target civilians. Also, if the militart isnt there to kill the WHY are they there?? The last time I looked , you couldnt plant flowers with and M-16. Tanks and jets arent there to build up the infrastructure. If you think that the military has any other job durring a war besides killing the enemy, them please enlighten me as to what it is.

No Problem. Here is the sight:
And here are the stats:
Pedro Alonso Lopez (300+) Meet the deadliest serial killer of the Archives. Pedro was known as the “Monster of the Andes” after the impressive numbers of hits he tallied in his three-nation killing spree.

Henry Lee Lucas & Ottis Toole (6-200+) The Tag Team from Hell: the Sadist King and the Generalissimo of Pain. The numbers speak for themselves.

H.H. Holmes (200+) Born Herman Webster Mudgett, Dr. Holmes started his criminal career as a medical student by stealing corpses from the University of Michigan.

Luis Alfredo Gavarito (140) On October 30, 1999, Colombian announced that Luis Alfredo Gavarito confessed to raping, torturing and killing 140 children in a five-year killing spree.

Hu Wanlin (100+) - On January 18, 1999, the Chinese state-run Xinhua News Agency reported a self-styled “doctor” who practiced the traditional medical art of qigong – a deep-breathing technique dating back 5,000 years – was arrested for killing between 100 to 190

Pee Wee Gaskins (100+) When he was a young boy Pee Wee watched a cobra eat a live rat at a carnival. According to a later confession he penned, that was the first time he felt attracted to violence. Dubbed America’s meanest killer,

Javed Iqbal (100) On March 16, 2000, a Pakistani court in Lahore sentenced serial child killer Javed Iqbal to death, saying he would be strangled in front of the parents whose children he was convicted of murdering.

Andrei Chikatilo (52+) The Soviet Hannibal Lecter.

Anatoly Onoprienko (52) On April 16, 1996, police arrested Anatoly Onoprienko, a 37-year-old former forestry student, sailor and mental hospital outpatient, putting an end to the Ukraine’s worst killing spree

The list goes on for quite a while and putting it up would take up way too much room. I hope this is enough of a “cite” for you.

Wrong again. My posting conveys that the jails are over crowded and full of people for whom killing is a daily activity. Who is more qualified to kill the enemy? A serial killer or gang banger who spends every day killing people or shooting at someone or 19 year old kid who just joined the army fresh out of high school. Contrary to misguided opinion, the militart is a bunch of killers. They might kill for diffrent reasons than serial killers, but when it comes down to it they still kill people. The diffrence is that I value the lives of millitary people more than I value the lives of criminals. If a few criminals paying their debt to society can catch a few bullets meant for people who are defending that society then I am all for it.

Well, lets say a person is in jail for burgulary. They borke into a home when nobody was there and stole a TV and were later caught and given jail.

Now they want out of jail so they join the Army. Lo and behold a war starts and now our burgular is at the front and his unit is given an order to hold a position as long as possible while other units are pulled back. Basically his unit is ordered to die. I’m not say the whole unit is made up of criminals but our guy is in that unit. So now basically you have given him the death penalty for stealing a TV.

Oh and Monty I thought Burner’s first post was a joke.

Monty, it looks like you need about as much help here as you would in an ATMB “Monty, how do you spell your screen name? Also, what is the proper spelling of IQ, CIA and ALS?” thread, but I couldn’t pass these up;)

How about peacekeeping, escorts, refugee aid, rescue missions, etc.? It’s like how firefighters are trained for that rare time when there is a fire. Sure, military personnel are trained to kill, but that’s not the whole, nor even the majority, of the training they undergo.

Here’s a thought: since the US hasn’t had a formal declaration of war on anyone since the 1940s, maybe there are other uses for the military besides A) in times nd war and/or B) killing people. However, since Monty has served in this country (USA)'s armed forces, I have no doubt he’ll be chomping at the bit to tell you all sorts of things you do, as a military person, in any number of situations.

Link not working for anyone else?

I haven’t heard of any of the others here except for Henry Lee Lucas, about whom I seem to recall reading … well, that he did a lot less than he said he did.

You may wish to consider rewording this statement else you contradict yourself. If the prisons are both overcrowded and full of people for whom killing is a daily activity, there must be a LOT more people going in than the criminals therein are able to kill each day.

The person with qualifications to kill is the more qualified one. Duh. As such, someone in the armed forces with the instructions to fire when fired upon (and, one would presume, shoot to kill if necessary) would have qualifications. Someone who spends a plurality of his/her time devising a scheme to catch one person is nothing more than an unpaid mercenary.

Whose misguided opinion would that be? Monty’s? Know your audience, BURNER. Monty was in the armed forces. I’d be willing to believe him on this.

Then you are equating the following entities based on the fact that they cause the end of life to people:

the military
serial killers
states which use the death penalty

Yeeeeeeah. Lotta logic in that one, buddy.

If you’re in the military or otherwise serving a military purpose, then you’re defending society. As such, your comment makes no sense.

Voluntary servitude. IE, you go in knowing there’s a chance some horrible fate will become of you.

That would be true only if the service were involuntary. However, you yourself have said that “[the burglar] want[s] out of jail so they join the Army.” Voluntary. Que sera sera.