Some criminals could serve in National Guard

A plan to allow certain nonviolent offenders to serve their sentence in the National Guard instead of behind bars is in the works, but the National Guard says rules are rules.

Rep. Talibdin El-Amin (D-St. Louis) proposed the bill that would allow sentencing courts to approve the arrangement if the criminal wasn’t a persistent offender. Col. Dennis Sandeothe of the National Guard in Missouri wouldn’t say if the Guard supported the legislation, but did say other rules would still apply.

“There are rules for getting in the military,” Sandeothe said. “The Department of Defense has rules, and those rules don’t change as far as that bill goes. We do have lesser crimes, but you can’t be a felon and get into the military.

“For example, you can have a DUI in the past and those types of things can be waived to get into the military.”

Under the proposal, courts could revoke the arrangement and also set specific conditions for National Guard service.

“Even though there is a bill in the state it doesn’t change the federal rules,” Sandeothe said. “You have to pass the written test, the medical exam.

“The Army has regulations that we follow for getting into the military, so the Guard has to follow those regulations.”

The bill has been assigned to the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee.