A U.S. congressional committee has released Pentagon data showing that the Army and Marine Corps admitted significantly more recruits with felony convictions last year when compared to 2006.
The U.S. House of Representatives' Oversight and Government Reform Committee released the statistics this week, showing more recruits were allowed to enlist despite having been convicted of crimes ranging from assault to rape to making terrorist threats.
The number of waivers issued to Army recruits with felony convictions more than doubled last year, from 249 to 511. Marine recruits with felony convictions increased by two thirds, from 208 to 350.
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, a Democrat, said the significant increase in recruits with criminal records is a "result of the strain put on the military by the Iraq war."
Waxman requested additional information from the Defense Department and armed forces on the specifics of the felony waivers, the reasoning behind them and the waiver program's track record.
The Navy reported a slight decline in felony waivers last year, from 48 in 2006 to 42. The Air Force said it did not grant any felony waivers in either year.
Some information for this report provided by AP.