According to UNODC, many countries worldwide have issues controlling their prison populations. As of last year, 115 nations’ prisons were at full capacity. Some nations – about 51 and counting – have reached levels of extreme overcrowding. These nations’ jails are 50% over full capacity. 

America’s infatuation with mass incarceration is clear. For example, since 1970, the nation’s prison population has grown by 500%. This growth has outpaced population growth and rising crime rates. Also, although the U.S. only accounts for 5% of the world’s population, we account for more than 20% of the world’s prison population.

Incarceration has also proven to be more punitive than corrective. In the United States, about 44% of criminals released go back to prison within the first year. We need change, and it’s been long overdue. Change very well could present itself in the form of various incarceration alternatives.

Community Service

Community service can be doled out as punishment or served with a probation sentence. Many offenders usually opt for community service instead of paying hefty fines or restitution. When we think of community service, we often think of roadside cleanup and other manual labor tasks. However, courts have utilized defendants’ skills in a multitude of ways. Some offenders have used their accounting, medical or computer skills to pay back their debts to society. It’s also worth noting that community service is unpaid labor.


Judges impose probation after defendants plead guilty. Probation can either be supervised or unsupervised. Supervised probation requires defendants to report to a probation officer, while unsupervised probation does not. As is to be expected, supervised probation is often given to more serious offenders.

Probation can either defer or suspend a defendant’s sentence. Completing a deferred sentence without any violations could mean one of two things. A judge could dismiss the case, which keeps a criminal conviction off the defendant’s record. In other cases, a judge could reduce the conviction down from a felony to a misdemeanor.

When judges suspend defendants’ sentences, offenders get criminal convictions on their records. They must serve a portion of their sentence in jail, but they’ll get to serve the rest of their sentence on probation. Beware, violating probation comes with a steep price – jail time. 

House Arrest

House arrest allows defendants to serve their sentence living at home while under electronic monitoring. In many instances, you’ll find offenders wearing an ankle bracelet to help authorities track their whereabouts. These devices permit the defendant to roam within a small area surrounding their home. If the defendant works a job, authorities can program the bracelet to let defendants be at their place of work within a certain time frame.

Work Release

A judge can order work release if the defendant has a minimal criminal record and does not present a flight risk. This gives defendants a chance to hold on to jobs during their sentences. 

Getting an Attorney

Incarceration alternatives present several benefits to people on both sides of the law. There have been many instances where they’ve been a more effective crime deterrent than jail time, and as such, we’ll happily help you fight to seek one of these alternatives for you or one of your loved ones. At Brender Law Firm, we will fight for your needs. Click here for an attorney.