Intermediate punishments, or intermediate sanctions, refer to forms of punishments that are more severe than conventional probation, but less expensive than incarceration. Together with probation and incarceration, intermediate sanctions constitute the ladder of punishments, with incarceration at the top, probation at the bottom, and intermediate punishments somewhere in the middle (Siegel & Bartollas, 2014). House arrest and electronic monitoring makes the most sense of all intermediate punishments while boot camps make the least sense.
The use of house arrests and electronic monitoring as an intermediate sanction is attractive for a number of reasons, including the fact that it can be deployed during the pretrial stage to monitor persons on bond to make certain that they appear in court, it can be employed post conviction in monitoring offenders who are serving a community corrections sentence, and because offenders are not allowed to venture into bars and other venues with criminal opportunities (DeLisi & Conis, 2013).
Electronic monitoring reduces correctional cost in two principal ways. First, the offender handles the cost of supervision, which makes the system self-sustaining. Second, because house arrest and electronic monitoring does not involve the incarceration of the offender, there is considerable savings with respect to jail space, incarceration costs, and prison crowding. Conversely, although promoted as a way of reducing corrections costs, recidivism rates, and jail crowding, most boot camps have not had any apparent effect on subsequent offending.
Many boot camps have drawn participants from offenders who would otherwise not have been incarcerated. Between one-third and one-half of offenders often fail to complete the boot camp program and are consequently sent to prison (Schmalleger, 2011). Moreover, on most occasions, close surveillance of those who graduate results in technical violations. However, it is imperative to note that back-end programs in which incarcerated offenders are transferred to serve a fixed-term sentence in a boot camp instead of a longer conventional sentence has been proven to save prison space and money.
Despite the success in reducing prison congestion and incarceration costs, boot camps often experience high rates of failure, technical violations, as well as revocation (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2004). Boot camps can be made more acceptable and effective by combining them with community service orders. In this manner, the energy spent in the camps can be channeled in community work, as well.
DeLisi, M., & Conis, P. J. (2013). American corrections: Theory, research, policy, and practice. Sudbury, MA: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Schmalleger, F. (2011). Criminal justice today: An introductory text for the 21st century. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Schmalleger, F., & Smykla, J. O. (2004). Corrections in the 21st century. New York, NY: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill.
Siegel, L. J., & Bartollas, C. (2014). Corrections today. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
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