President Barack Obama wants to press for the reduction or outright elimination of mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. He wants to offer them "resources and support structures 'that would allow them to survive those mistakes' " ["A call for fairer justice system," News, July 17].

I propose that instead of sending them to prison, sentence these people to serve time in the armed forces. Send them to military boot camp and ship them overseas to the Mideast to defend our country and others. This would be a mandatory sentence based on the level of their nonviolent crime.

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This idea would solve a number of serious concerns. It would reduce the prison population that has quadrupled since 1980, give these nonviolent offenders the resources and structure they need, and relieve our tired troops.

Just think, when they return home to the United States, they could get jobs, go to school on the GI Bill of Rights, and be recognized as heroes for defending their country. What a great rehabilitation that would be.

Tony Antonelli, Islip