Chapter 12 reviews alternatives to prison for criminal offenders; these include probation (instead of prison) and parole (after prison).

Topic: Community Corrections and Diversion

  • Society cannot afford to imprison everyone who violates the law. Community corrections are a way to punish offenders without incarcerating them.
  • Prisons only achieve the goals of incapacitation, retribution, and rehabilitation in a limited manner.
  • The four interrelated community corrections strategies are: diversion programs, probation, parole, and intermediate sanctions.
  • Offenders may be sent to alternative programs at several junctures in the criminal justice system.
  • Diversion programs are popular for first-time offenders who have committed minor offenses.


Topic: Probation

  • Probation is a widely used sentencing alternative in which offenders are not incarcerated if they promise good behavior and agree to restrictions and/or requirements set by a judge.
  • There are more probationers than inmates or parolees, and state probationers outnumber federal probationers.
  • Three activities define the occupation of the probation officer: investigation, supervision, and service.
  • The probation officer is responsible for writing the pre-sentence investigation
  • The pre-sentence investigation report contains information about two important aspects of the case: the legal history of the incident and the offender's social history.

Topic: Parole

  • Parole is for offenders who are leaving prison after serving a partial sentence.
  • Parole grew from the philosophy that the penal system should help the offender return to society.
  • Parolees face much of the same restrictions and requirements as probationers.
  • The decision to grant parole is based on three principles: retribution, rehabilitation, and prison space.
  • Parole boards make their decisions based on time served, prison adjustment, pre-parole plan, offender interview, and victim-impact statements.
  • Offenders returning to society face three primary obstacles: prisonization, weakened social ties, and stigmatization.

Topic: Intermediate sanctions

  • Intermediate sanctions are sentencing alternatives that exist between probation and incarceration. Notable examples are intensive-supervision probation (ISP), drug testing, house arrest/electronic monitoring, and fines.
  • Shock probation is a program in which the offender receives a false sentence in jail or prison, but is released on probation after 30 to 90 days of incarceration.