As the Pentagon prepares to begin the largest military deployment in American history, the Department of Defense is expanding the use of military prison facilities to punish people with petty crimes, a practice that critics say violates the rights of prisoners.
The Pentagon is proposing to convert the military prison at Camp Pendleton, Calif., to a prison for petty offenders in the event that the prison can no longer hold the hundreds of thousands of soldiers currently incarcerated there.
A plan that was first reported by The Hill is expected to include the creation of the Rockwood Service Corporation, which will manage the prison.
Rockwood is a federally funded prison that holds about 250,000 people.
It is located about 60 miles north of the city of Los Angeles, on a military base in the desert in a remote area of Southern California.
Its inmates are housed in barracks and have to wear uniforms, including uniforms that resemble those worn by prisoners at the military prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Camp Lejeune, N.C. It is not known how many prisoners will be sent there under the plan, but the department is asking for private contractors to provide services that include administrative support, housing, food, laundry, and showers.
The Pentagon plans to begin work this month, after it completes its review of the existing prison.
Under a plan announced last month, the Pentagon would start to convert some of its existing prisons in fiscal year 2020 to serve as prisons for petty offenses.
“I am proud to say that our service members have shown remarkable resilience in facing the challenges that await them, and they are our greatest asset to the American people,” said Army Secretary John McHugh, who is also the deputy secretary of defense.
For many, the prospect of being sent to prison was an issue of self-preservation.
As a young soldier, Daniel Tompkins went through a period of intense psychological trauma that included the murder of his father, who was convicted of murder.
Tompkins, now 24, was sent to a military prison in Pennsylvania after he was arrested for stabbing his father in the face, according to a profile published by The New York Times.
After he was released from prison, Tompkin returned to his home state of Texas to continue his college education.
While in prison, he met and fell in love with a fellow prisoner.
The two married in the prison yard and moved in together, but Tompinks eventually returned to prison and was sent back to Texas.
Tompys father was convicted in 1992 of the murder.
Tompys mother was also convicted of the crime.
After the conviction, Tommys parents were sent to the Texas Military Prison for Women for life.
“My father did not deserve this,” Tompks’ mother, Patricia, told the Times.
“He had to live this life alone and alone with nothing.
I have never felt so alone.
I never felt like I was able to do anything about it.
I lost my husband and I have lost my son.”
In 2013, Tome, a former Army reservist, became the first prisoner in Rockwood to sue the government for wrongful imprisonment.
According to court documents, Toma and his family spent more than $5 million to secure his release from prison.
His lawyers have said that the settlement includes an undisclosed amount of money for mental health treatment and other costs.