In most of my blog posts on Prison Insight, I talk a lot about things prison inmates are not allowed to do. I also discuss the rights prisoners lose while incarcerated and when they are released back into society as felons.
Today, I’m going to talk about another thing that prisoners can’t do in prison, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing – be drafted into the military. In the United States, healthy males over the age of 18 are required to enlist in the military.
Currently, women are not required to do so, but a federal judge recently ruled that laws requiring men — but not women — to register for the draft are unconstitutional. The case is still pending in court.
What about adult prison inmates? Do the same rules apply? Which brings us to today’s blog post: Are POWs Conscripted?
In this blog post, I will cover the following topics:
- America’s Prison Inmates Are Not Drafted to War
- Felons can enlist with exemption
- Some inmates train as firefighters on West Coast
America’s Prison Inmates Are Not Drafted to War
Prison inmates in the United States were not drafted to fight for a number of security reasons. Even during World War II — when more people were drafted than at any point in the country’s history — prisoners were still incarcerated.
However, many prisoners still contributed to the war effort.so many pleaded to go to war instead of staying locked up World War 2.0 Blogsome facilities started military training units.
At Ohio State Prison, for example, inmates sent notes and petitions to Warden Frank D. Henderson asking for the opportunity to join the military upon release. This led to the organization of a training unit in which 60 prisoners trained for two hours a day.
“The 60 men were handpicked from a pool of 332 ex-servicemen. Some were weeded out based on the severity of their crimes. They had to be released on parole to serve, but all were eligible for early parole, making them more likely to serve in the war.” Released while still in progress.”
The 13-week training course does not include the use of actual weapons. The goal is to train 500 prisoners who will eventually find a place in the military. In addition to training, prisoners purchased war bonds and postage stamps to support military operations; when the original article was printed in 1942, approximately $11,000 worth of war bonds and $3,000 worth of stamps had been purchased.
In Oklahoma, many life-serving prisoners approached President Roosevelt during World War II for the chance to execute suicide missions.
“It’s a job for us,” said a person who spoke on behalf of the inmates at the time. Some of them had been members of the armed forces but were dishonorably discharged. In a letter to President Roosevelt, these men would rather die for their country than be in prison:
“Please help these people redeem themselves in their own eyes and in the eyes of the world,” the spokesman said.
Many prison production facilities were also converted into war laboratories, where prisoners were trained for manufacturing jobs and developed the trade skills needed to produce war materiel.
Felons can enlist with exemption
Once prisoners have served their sentences, they can join the military. However, there are restrictions depending on the crime committed. After prisoners are released, they can meet with recruiters to enlist, but they will ask about their criminal history.
Telling the truth is important because the military still conducts background checks no matter what the recruiter is told. Immunity may be granted for the following offences:
- Minor non-traffic related expenses
- civil offense
- certain misdemeanors
- Mixed Misdemeanor Charges and Petty Offenses
- A serious misconduct allegation, depending on the seriousness—or a felony
They take into account how many crimes the felon has committed when making an exemption decision. Some crimes indicate low moral character. Let’s be honest, if someone commits a crime of some kind, the military doesn’t trust that person to make life or death decisions or put someone else’s life and safety in their hands.
The decision on immunity is also influenced by the person’s behavior while incarcerated.
Some inmates train as firefighters on West Coast
While this doesn’t touch on the topic of conscription, I do want to mention that some inmates in West Coast prisons are trained for a very dangerous job. In California, some male inmates work in conservation camps dedicated to firefighter training. Prisoners are then deployed to fight fires when needed.
Unfortunately, these inmates only pay $1 an hour for their services while fighting the fire. Their daily stipend for participating in the program is about $3. Until September 2020, these prisoners were not allowed to work as firefighters after they were released from prison. A law was recently passed that changes this ridiculous barrier to prisoner access to the workplace.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Eloise Reyes, would allow inmates who have served in a state fire battalion or county fire department to petition the courts to have their convictions quashed so they can qualify as EMTs, political reporting.
“The Golden State has long relied on inmates to fight fires, and about 3,100 inmates helped fight fires last year.”
The bill excludes those convicted of certain crimes, including murder, kidnapping, rape, arson or any felony punishable by death or life imprisonment.
Do you think prisoners should be drafted into the army? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.
Sources: Patriotism Behind Bars: US Prisons Aid the War Effort Do Felons Get Drafted? California Clears Path for Inmate Firefighters to Become Regulars After Release California Clears Way for Inmate Firefighters to Enter Profession Upon Release