[JURIST] US military branches continue to accept a greater number of recruits with criminal records, granting recruiting waivers [USAREC Regulation 601-56 text, PDF], according to data compiled by the US Defense Department. The Army accepted over twice as many recruits with criminal records in 2006 than it did in 2003, granting 901 felony waivers in 2006 as compared to the 411 recruits waived in 2003. The number of waivers granted for misdemeanors rose to over 6,000 in 2006, as opposed to 2,700 issued in 2003.
Felony and misdemeanor waivers are granted upon request by the military branches, in order to allow persons to serve in the armed forces even though their criminal record would normally preclude them from doing so. Commanding officers in the Army expressed concern last year that the drop in standards associated with an increase in recruiting waivers [JURIST report] would lead to discipline problems within units. AP has more.