Alternatives to Incarceration
Underlying historical and economic reasons behind the quest for alternatives to
incarcerating offenders in jails and prisons.
The federal and state governments have been looking for means to invest more funds in
public health and public safety outcomes at the same reducing the criminal justice and
corrections. The government has come up with a number of factors designed to reduce criminal
justice spending on prisons or jail and at the same time improving the safety of communities.
Justice reinvestment is regarded as an alternative to incarceration. Most of the states are reducing
their cuts on spending and focusing on corrections spending. Through establishing the driving
force behind the increasing number of prisoners, the state can determine how the growth might
be stopped. States have come up with new policies aimed at achieving slow growth in the prisons
and downsizing of corrections systems increasing savings. The money saved is then channeled
back to community support programs such as substance abuse treatment (Winokur Early et al.
2010).
Alternatives to incarceration that juvenile courts currently use
Day or evening treatment is a community-based program that provides intensive
supervision to the offender. The offenders are supposed to report to a specific facility at a given
moment during the day or night. The visits continue for a certain number of days or weeks. The
offenders are allowed to return home at night. For example, AMIkids is a community-based
service which offers treatment services aimed at reducing recidivism. During the day, the kids
receive intervention services, and at night, they are released to go to their foster families as a
means to involve them in the treatment process. It helps to improve the juvenile behaviors and
reduce their exposure to criminal activities (Winokur Early et al. 2010).
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION 3
Home confinement is a community based program designed to reduce criminal activities.
The offenders are allowed to live at home, attend school and attend to any other responsibilities.
During such events, the offenders are electronically monitored to ensure they comply with the
conditions set by the courts. Individuals under this type of confinement operate on a strict
schedule only stipulated by the courts. For example, offenders in Florida wear a tamper-resistant
bracelet which they carry it everywhere they go. The bracelet transmits signal to the monitoring
center (Bales et al., 2010).
Intensive supervision programs (ISPs) are community-based programs that provide
intensive monitoring of offenders. They normally have strict conditions for compliance with the
offender having frequent contacts with the probation officer. For example, the offender has to
visit probation officer on a daily basis. The program involves high risk-control strategies such as
urine tests, electronic monitoring and evening visits. The individuals that are observed to possess
a high risk to the society are institutionalized (Austin, Johnson & Weitzer 2005).
Significant societal and individual benefits of imposing sanctions or punishments
The act of imposing sanctions or punishment while the offender remains with his family
helps the individual continue with his or her daily activities. During this time, the offender also
provides community services. The community also benefits since there is a reduction in
taxpayer’s money. The offender gets to retain more privacy than if he/she was taken to prison or
jail. He or she gets to offer the community with more service at no cost. Some of the activities
include removing debris from parks and building of community gardens among other services.
The offenders remain accountable for their actions at the same time reducing prison crowding
(Bales et al., 2010).
ALTERNATIVES TO INCARCERATION 4
References
Austin, James F., Kelly Dedel Johnson, and Ronald John Weitzer. 2005. Alternatives to the
Secure Detention and Confinement of Juvenile Offenders. Washington, D.C.: U.S.
Department of Justice.
Bales, William D., Karen Mann, Thomas G. Blomberg, Gerald G. Gaes, Kelle Barrick, Karla
Dhungana, and Brian McManus. (2010). “A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of
Electronic Monitoring.” Tallahassee, Fla.: Florida State University, College of
Criminology and Criminal Justice, Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research.
Winokur Early, Kristin, Gregory A. Hand, Julia L. Blankenship, and Steven F. Chapman. 2010.
“Experimental Community-Based Interventions for Delinquent Youth: An Evaluation of
Recidivism and Cost Effectiveness.” Unpublished manuscript.