Now that they are out of prison, many felons think of those personal visits they had while incarcerated. They often know someone, family or friend, who is in the military.
They want to be able to extend the same compassion shown to them by visiting someone in the military. But, can a felon get on a military base?
This blog post will address the issue of whether or not a felon can get on a military base.
- Criteria for Getting on a Military Base
- Security Check
- An Opportunity for Felons?
- Recommended Action
Criteria for Getting on a Military Base
A military base is an installation, camp, post, station, yard, center, homeport facility for any ship, or other activity under the jurisdiction of the Department of Defense, including leased space, that is controlled by, or primarily supports Department of Defense’s activities.
Currently, there are approximately 5,000 U.S. military bases within the United States and 600 bases overseas. Approximately 9,200 persons are employed at these bases. Military bases in the United States are either part of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard.
Civilians visiting a military base will be required to have a REAL ID from their state or a second form of identification along with their driver’s license. Some military bases require everyone in a vehicle to have an ID while others may only check for a valid ID from the vehicle driver.
Acceptable forms of ID include a:
- United States passport
- U.S. permanent resident card
- Veteran’s health identification card issued by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
A REAL ID is issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles. It resembles a driver’s license but has a gold star in the upper right-hand corner. The star indicates that the person has met the identification standards from the Federal REAL ID Act passed by Congress in 2005 as a response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Those who fail to meet the new military ID requirements will be refused access or will have to be escorted by a sponsor who meets the requirements.
All states are currently compliant with REAL ID or non-compliant with an extension. Residents from these states may continue using their driver’s licenses or identification cards, regardless of whether the license/ID is REAL ID compliant or not, for:
- Accessing federal facilities (including military bases)
- Entering nuclear power plants
- Boarding commercial aircraft
The license/ID itself does not have to be REAL ID compliant until “card-based” enforcement begins in 2020.
Anyone not having a valid REAL ID and does not have an escort will need to visit the base’s visitor center. Anyone driving on a military base must have a valid driver’s license, registration, and vehicle insurance information.
Information for a particular military base can be found on the website for that base under visitor’s information. No visitor is allowed to bring any contraband, weapons, or other questionable items from the vehicle and have them in their personal possession while on base. This includes alcohol and alcohol containers. Cars are subject to inspection upon arrival.
All base rules and regulations must be followed while any visitor is at the installation. Most bases have certain areas that have stripped speed restrictions, typically 15 miles per hour in housing sections and 25 miles per hour in other areas of the base.
The federal government is concerned about potential security threats on all military bases throughout the United States. Anyone arriving at a military base without a valid REAL ID will be directed to the visitor center and required to undergo a criminal background check.
If a person has a felony on his or her record, he or she will automatically be denied access to the military base. If there is an active warrant for that individual, he or she will immediately be taken into custody and will need legal counsel.
Anyone who gives false information regarding his or her background will also be subject to legal action. This standard background check can be expected to be conducted at the time of entry to the base.
Current reasons for denial of visitor access include anyone who:
- is currently on probation or parole
- is registered as a sex offender
- has a history of gang affiliation
- has an extensive criminal history
- is currently on the terrorist watch list
- has an active warrant
- is currently barred from any U.S. military base
- has a felony conviction for murder, assault, sex offenses, and other serious felonies
An Opportunity for Felons?
It’s important to be honest while filling out an application to apply for a REAL ID card. If a felony isn’t disclosed but is found on a background check, this constitutes fraud and is punishable. It is a crime to falsify an application, which could result in being sent back to prison.
In order to be successful in getting a REAL ID card, it is essential for felons to be honest about their background. They are already seen with negative perceptions of being dishonest, untrustworthy, and unwilling or unable to follow directions from authority figures.
Having their record expunged can give them the chance needed to begin with a clean record and succeed in getting a REAL ID card. Expunging a criminal record allows anyone to honestly state on an application that he or she has not been convicted of a crime.
It’s a big challenge, but it might be worth it for a felon wanting to get onto a military base. Having his or her record expunged and also documenting any training programs or additional education could make the essential difference in a felon succeeding in getting a REAL ID card and gaining admittance to a military installation.
Having support from family, friends, or previous employers can make a huge difference. A felon doesn’t have to be defined by his or her crime. We are not defined by our mistakes but by how we recover from them. He or she can begin again and live an honest life no matter how difficult it might seem.
What do you think about this blog post? Have you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get on a military base with a felony? What was that like for him or her, and how did he or she achieve success? Please tell us in the comments below.