Did US judges really once offer convicted defendants the choice between jail or the Army?
I've been told that when a judge had a defendant that he thought was basically good but just some bad decisions, he would tell the accused, "You have a choice. You can promise to join the Army and straighten yourself out, and walk out of here now, or you can risk getting convicted, go to jail, and have a conviction on your record. Take your pick."
Does anyone know if this is true? Did it happen to you or someone you know? How did it work out?
Or is this just a myth?
A good question to our politicians in power to make it a compulsory choice to all the judges in our country by passing a law.
I don't know if it's true but I guess in times of war and need of soldiers, you would want more people in the army than wasting away in jail. Also, the army is a good place to set your mind straight and get your record clean, many youth that have misconducted laws go into the army to straighten themselves out.
'Twas quite true. But, with the phase out of the military draft and the advent of the all-volunteer Army, beginning in 1973, the armed services began to bar such enlistments and even banned recruiters from appearing in court on behalf of recruits facing a criminal prosecution.
Now, enlisting in the armed services requires a waiver for a felony conviction, for more than one misdemeanor, or a bunch (ten or more) of traffic tickets.
It has happened in the past and I'm sure it is happening now.
I know that it has happened in the past. It's not a bad idea, it gets people to follow instructions, learn some basic work ethics, take some of the stress off the prison system, and keep them away from prisoners that would lead them astray.
My husband is in the Montana Army National Guard and he knows several people that were offered that choice. Officially, Judges aren't allowed to offer this as an alternative. It sounds like the common line is "if you were to show me that you had matured enough to make a commitment like joining the military, I might be willing to offer you a lighter sentence (i.e. probation)."
To onegoodwoman: as the wife of someone who chose to serve his country as a combat medic and nearly died of heat stroke - I resent the assumption that people enlist because they can't qualify for another job.
Yes. When I went in for a very short stint, I met one person in basic training who told me that the judge gave him the choice between prison or the Army. That was 17 years ago.
I have to chime in on MegySu and onegoodwoman's comments, I, and many others, joined because we didn't know what else to do and we believed that the military would help us move forward in life. Even though I did get out early, I learned good work ethics that I still use today. I have also met ex-policewomen, former business owners and degree holders who could have done something different with their lives and they thought very highly of their new career choice.
There are plenty of low-achievers in the military, but they don't represent the entire gamut of military personnel.
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