Alternatives to Incarceration


Alternativesto Incarceration

Incarcerationinvolves the practice of confining someone who has been accused andconvicted of a crime in a detention center or a prison. It is a formof punishment that mostly awards time for rehabilitation of thecriminals as well as for satisfaction of the society’s demands thatcriminals are held accountable for their crimes (Scheb &amp Scheb,2009).

Thispractice of incarceration has however received criticism that it doesnot meet its intended objective. The severity of the punishment maybe sufficient but the celerity is not present. It has been voicedthat incarceration does not make the criminals accountable for theircrimes instead it has been seen as a way that keeps the offendersaway for an extended amount of time (Levinson, 2002). In thisregard, the offenders are supposed to be held accountable in moreproductive and effective ways.

Alternativesto incarceration include anything rather than time in prison whichinvolve court’s and community’s supervision. They are effectiveas they rehabilitate the offenders, provide various benefits to thecommunity and, in a way, repair the harm done to the victims(Perlstein &amp Phelps, 1975). In this regard, alternatives toincarceration are cost effective as they save the tax payers’money, the public is protected because there is crime reduction andabove all strengthen the family and community ties.

Examplesof alternatives to incarceration include probation or communitycorrections. In this alternative, the offender stays in thecommunity but subject to some conditions and limits his/her freedom,for instance, doing community service and meeting the probationofficer regularly (Perlstein &amp Phelps, 1975). Probation orcorrection centers allow the offenders to remain in the community andat the same time acts as a form of punishment.

Restorativejustice is another alternative to incarceration which involves theoffender, the victim, the community as well as the criminal justiceofficials. It is a holistic process that involves sentencing circles(Latimeret al 2001).They all meet and exchange apologies as well as discuss the best waythe offender should be punished for accountability of his crimes.This alternative is efficient as it repairs and brings healing to thevictims and the offender is restrained from committing future crimes.


Scheb,J. M., &amp Scheb, J. M. (2009). Criminalprocedure.Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Perlstein,G. R., &amp Phelps, T. R. (1975). Alternativesto prison: Community-based corrections, a reader.Pacific Palisades, Calif: Goodyear Pub. Co.

Levinson,D. (2002). Encyclopediaof crime and punishment.Thousand Oaks, Ca: Sage Publications.

Latimer,J., Dowden, C., &amp Muise, D. (2001). Theeffectiveness of restorative justice practices:A meta-analysis.Department of Justice Canada, Ottawa,Ontario (p18).

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