State and federal governments have developed and implemented new options in an attempt to reduce overcrowding in correctional facilities and costs, better manage higher-risk offenders in the community, reduce crime and achieve greater fairness and effectiveness in criminal sentencing for adults. These innovations are called intermediate sanctions programs, which include: intensive probation supervision, house arrests, electronic monitoring, restitution orders, shock incarcerations or split sentences and residential community corrections.
The intermediate sanctions have the advantage of offering alternatives to jails and prisons. This is because penal institutions have not only proven to be costly but also injurious and ineffective. In addition, there is little evidence to prove that jails and prisons prevent future criminality as most inmates repeat the same crimes soon after they have been released. According to the U.S. Bureaus of Justice Statistics Report of 2009, approximately two-thirds of prisoners were re-arrested after release from correctional facilities over a period of three years. Furthermore, the intermediate sanctions reduce overcrowding in jails and prisons by providing alternatives for incarceration for misdemeanants and also cutting the number of pretrial detainees.
Although intermediate sanctions may be more expensive than traditional probation, they are less costly compared to incarceration. If offenders are given alternative sanctions than being incarnated, the saved cost may be significant. Furthermore, offenders given intermediate sanction generate income, pay taxes, reimburse victims, perform community services and provide other cost savings that would have been realized if they had been jailed. Consequently, the sanctions may reduce the need for future jail and prison construction.
Intermediate sanctions help meet the need for developing community services that are fair, proportional and equitable. For instance, it is unfair to treat a rapist and a shoplifter with the same type of probationary sentences given the differences in their crimes. Therefore, intermediate sanctions are beneficial because they allow judges to fit the punishment to the crime without resorting to a prison punishment.
The intermediate sanctions have the advantage of being designed to increase control over recidivists who make the probation sentence inappropriate and prison sentences being unruly harsh and counterproductive. For offenders who commit offenses while on probation, intermediate sanctions may help reduce this behavior.
Zachariah Wavomba started writing professionally in 2007. His articles have appeared in publications such as "Saturday Nation" magazine and "The Standard." Wavomba holds a Master of Arts in international business from the University of Nairobi.