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Most Common Type of Alternative Sentencing: Community Service

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Alternative sentencing refers to ways in which a court or a judge can punish a defendant who has been convicted of a crime without necessarily putting him under a jail sentence. It can also be referred to as a non-custodial or community sentence. Due to the growing population of people in jail today, the courts opts to administer alternative sentences to offenders who have committed minor crimes or crimes that do not require mandatory sentence as per the state laws. Alternative sentencing has proved to be an effective tool to be used by judges to impose punishments to offenders according to the crimes committed. This research discusses more about alternative sentencing.

Not every defendant qualifies for an alternative sentence. There are several factors or conditions that the judge uses to determine who qualifies for an alternative sentence and who goes to jail or prison. These factors may include, the criminal record of the defendant, that is, if it is the first time for the defendant to commit a crime, the defendant shows a desire and is motivated to change, if the defendant has a steady employment and ties to the community. The effect of the crime committed to the victims and also the state laws regarding that crime must be considered before passing the sentence. Therefore, the defendant and his lawyer should consider these factors to determine the eligibility of an alternative sentence.

Alternative sentencing takes many forms. To begin with, community service is the most common type of alternative sentencing. In this case, the defendant is given a number of hours where he is expected to work for the community and he is not paid for the work done. The defendant works in public places and other non-profitable organizations. The work done may include cleaning highways, markets places, and others as instructed by the court. The service hours are recorded by an official in charge who reports to the courts.

Secondly, restitution and fines may be considered as an alternative to jail programs. Restitution is the money paid by the defendant to the victims to cater for the damage caused such as property damage, time wasted, and psychological torture. On the other hand, fines are paid by the defendant to the court even if the crime committed does not have any financial damage.

Alternatively, judges may opt for jail diversion and rehabilitation programs. Jail diversion is applicable when the defendant’s criminal behavior is associated to drug and substance abuse and mental illness. Judges order defendants to be diverted to a treatment program upon whose completion they may evade conviction. Rehabilitation programs on the other hand assist defendants to delve into the causes of their addiction, heal their past wounds, and mend the broken relationships with their families and friends. Rehabilitation forms a basis for making a new start to the offenders. Helps the offenders and the community by treating addiction cases rather than subjecting non-violent offenders to punishment who have never had a chance to heal.

Likewise, probation is the case where the defendant is released into the community but doesn’t have equal freedom, of those normal citizens. Probation programs are granted to first-time or lower-risk offenders. It is accompanied by conditions that restrict the person’s behavior. If the offender violates the conditions of probation, the judge can sentence him in jail. When the defendant completes probation successfully, the case is dismissed and the defendant is set free. There are two types of probation, supervised and unsupervised probation. In supervised probation, the court or the judge imposes conditions to the defendant and the defendant is expected to obey and abide to the conditions and report to a probation officer. In unsupervised probation, the defendant is only required to abide by the conditions given without reporting to a probation officer.

Additionally, suspended sentences is another type of alternative sentencing. In this case, the judge refrains from passing a sentence or decides the sentence but fails to enforce it. Based on the type and severity of the crime, the age of the defendant, the defendant’s criminal history, effects of the crime on the victim, and the victim’s remorse. Suspended sentences can either be conditional or unconditional. Unconditional suspended sentences suspends the sentence with no strings attached while in conditional sentences, the judge holds from executing the punishment provided the defendant fulfills the conditions of the suspension.

Lastly, work release and weekend jail programs is another form of alternative sentencing. In the case of work release, if the defendant is employed or gets employed while in jail, he/she is released to go to work but must return to the jail and stay overnight. On the hand, in weekend jail programs the defendant is released to go to work and attend to other responsibilities and returns to jail on Friday to Sunday. Defendant finds work and jail program to be more satisfactory since they can work while in jail and pay their restitution than in jail sentence.

Alternative sentencing provides lump some benefits to the offenders, courts as well as the state. Some of these benefits include the reduction of social stigma where the public has negative perception towards the offenders. Protection from social stigma assists in building confidence for rehabilitation purpose to the new offenders.

Alternative sentencing provides a foundation for other forms of punishment to courts besides imprisonment. Such alternatives includes fines, community service, jail diversion and rehabilitation, and house arrests. It is also healthier than imprisonment. For example, in the case of community service, the offenders are able to rehabilitate more effectively than in prison. They are able to give back to the community as a sign that they have changed.

Alternatively, it provides a less expensive punishment than a jail takes a lot of money to send a person to jail. Prisons all over the world are facing overcrowding problems. The more the imprisonment, the more the demand for food and security which increases the costs of running the prison. Community sentencing helps in reducing such costs as well as impacting a decrease of overcrowding in prisons. Money saved from alternative sentencing helps improve the living standards of the country.

However, alternative sentencing may not be adequate punishment for offenders. Some types of alternative sentencing such as community service may be too kind to the offenders. Administration of non-custodial sentencing requires administrative oversight that exceeds the capacity of the government, especially in the case of community service. More so, it causes negative perception from the public which affects the offender’s psychology in recovering from offenses. It brings the morale and the confident of the offenders down. Work release expose offenders to public causing a high risk of stigmatization.

In conclusion, various crimes can be punished by alternative sentencing that does not involve a prison sentence. Community service is the most common type of alternative sentencing. Monetary fines, restitution, house arrest, and electronic monitoring, work release, and jail programs are other forms of alternative sentencing that a judge can use to administer punishment to defendant instead of passing a jail imprisonment. Non-custodial sentencing has proved to be essential and effective in the assistance to curb crimes in the societal. Community service for example provides offender with a chance to change and adopt a new life out of crime. Additionally, community sentencing has reduced overcrowding in prisons which is a major setback affecting all world prisons. Besides that, it has also impacted the change in the public perception about offenders a factor that has boosted the moral and confidence of the lawbreakers to change. However, community sentencing has certain flaws such that punishments imposed on offenders may be too kind to suit the level of crime they committed. In this case, the individuals may fail to change as they feel the punishment is too lenient. All in all alternative sentencing is a humane and cost-effective way that helps communities to reduce and prevent crimes.

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Most Common Type Of Alternative Sentencing: Community Service. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 22, 2022, from
“Most Common Type Of Alternative Sentencing: Community Service.” GradesFixer, 29 Apr. 2022,
Most Common Type Of Alternative Sentencing: Community Service. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 May 2022].
Most Common Type Of Alternative Sentencing: Community Service [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Apr 29 [cited 2022 May 22]. Available from:
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