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United States Penal Regiments

Updated on October 16, 2011

Penal Regiment

German SS Penal Regiment Commander
German SS Penal Regiment Commander


In these times when the US is involved in many conflicts around the world and at home their prisons are overcrowded, is it time that the administration turned to history and the fiction of movies to help them out?

During WW11 the Germans used penal regiments to augment their forces. These were criminals, murderers, rapists, thieves and other unsavory characters. They were mainly used in places that were harsh or particularly dangerous, such as the Eastern Front.

I think it was in the movie “The Dirty Dozen” where the US Army conscripted criminals to partake in a particularly dangerous operation.

Couldn’t these practices, in part, be used today?

I am not suggesting that murderers or like be used or even to put drug dealers close to the source of drugs. At least though, that would still leave a large amount of incarcerated people available for conscription.

Private Contractors

Increases in Private Contractors
Increases in Private Contractors
Who are the Real Criminals?
Who are the Real Criminals?


Remembering that it costs more money to house and feed one inmate than it does one soldier, the cost effectiveness must be practical.

There must be many offenders that would welcome the opportunity to serve their country, even in dangerous situations, rather than serve time in prison environments.

Remember that an army is not just made up of frontline soldiers. Although all must have basic combat training, the variety of other skills required to make up that army are almost endless, bottle washers, cooks, drivers, latrine builders, laundry cleaners and clerks. Some of these skills may already be possessed by some inmates, reducing training costs.

For those of you that do not feel happy about criminals taking part in conflicts on behalf of the US, think about this: currently many of these tasks are carried out by civilian contractors.

Now I do not blame those cooks or security personnel for taking the opportunity of earning perhaps US$15,000 a month tax free, however I cannot help to think of those in the higher echelons of the companies that overcharge the government for fuel and other factors, as bigger criminals than half of those that are locked up at home.

ALL Should Pay

Cost Should be Shared by ALL
Cost Should be Shared by ALL


If certain classes of criminals such as non violent third offence possession, driving offenses, white collar, immigration offenses or even some cases of manslaughter there most certainly are those that are either patriotic or at least would be receptive to the opportunity to serve country rather than serve hard time.

With the growing need for citizens to be put in harms way for the protection of others rights and lives, why is it the country always seems to turn to the young innocent school leavers, who they target in their recruitment drives?

Why can’t the government first implement schemes that use other available resources, especially when the use of these resources would be cheaper and more cost efficient?

I am not saying, like in the case of Germany, criminals are forced to serve, as I do not believe this would be productive and would cause its own problems.

I do think though, that there are many criminals that would welcome an alternative to prison and would only require a minimal amount of extra supervision. The tax payer has to pay for their food and board anyway. They could receive some wages, obviously less than regular troops but their main incentive would be reduced or cancellation of prison time.

Let’s face it: currently it is only the young and innocent who are dying, for the protection of the rights of those that are incarcerated.

It should be that all groups, gays, criminals, aliens and law abiding, regardless of religion or race should share the cost, both in lives and monetary terms, of securing and maintaining the rights of these groups to exist.


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    • Credence2 profile image

      Credence2 6 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Yes, I saw the Dirty Dozen, a great film. I think that technology could limit the need to imprison those convicted of non-felonies and non violent offenses. GPS ankle braces to restrict movement without having the taxpayer providing for everyneed as one would expect in a prison. It is an interesting idea you present here. I think that a chain gang, making people work tending to roads and vegetation control, would properly channel their energies away from the mayhem, the outcome of so many idle hours. At my prison it would say "Arbeiten Mach Frei" or those that do not work do not eat!

    • diogenes profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hi This might be a good idea for some prisoners. But many are drug users and would revert to criminality when free. I think this is a good plan for young prisoners and first-timers who might take to the discipline and find a better role model than the gangs. But it has been tried before...Bob

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 6 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Excellent hub. You have put the contrarian view forward.