Criminal Justice Paper on Benefits of Probation over Incarceration

Criminal Justice Paper on Benefits of Probation over Incarceration

Many people believe that probation is the best option of dealing with offense. They see incarceration as the only response to dealing of punishing criminal behaviors displayed.The truth is that probation has proved to be an effective alternative to imprisonment(Phelps 51).There are many benefits of probation over incarceration which have been realized over the years. This study seeks to establish these benefits and make a coherent conclusion based on the stated benefits.

Benefits of Probation over Incarceration


This is the number one justification for the use of probation on petty offenders instead of imprisonment. Taking the petty offenders to the prisons is very costly to the federal government of the U.S and cost the taxpayers a lot of money. The cost incurred in probation is way much below the cost of imprisonment (Christian and Delaney 68). The Pew center in the state (2009) had cited 79 U.S dollars as the amount that the federal government spends on each prisoner every day as compared to the 3.42 U.S dollars spent on the probationers. The big difference in the costs of community supervision and the cost of imprisonment justifies the use of probation over incarceration.

A study carried out on the Texas criminal justice solutions (2007) had stated that the state uses 44.01 US dollars daily on a single prisoner as compared to the 2.13 US dollars used on probationers (Lipsey, et al., 27). The cost of supervising the offenders is further lessened because probationers pay for the supervision fees (Christian and Delaney 68). They are also charged fines which are directed towards ensuring the success of the program. The money saved through probation could be channeled into more beneficial programs in the society. Programs that would help the society reduce criminal cases such creation of more employment and training opportunities could benefit when taxpayers’ money is well utilized.


Offenders under probation are usually evaluated and are put in rehabilitation programs. There are treatment professionals in the rehabilitation centers with skills and experiences that enable them to help the offenders change their perspectives on life (Nagin 627). The training helps offenders change their criminal behaviors and instead, become productive members of a society.

The rehabilitation programs are beneficial to both the individuals and the society. The offenders are able to find meaningful ways of living their lives. They also have the opportunity to avoid prison sentences while the society is gifted with peace loving and productive individuals. The imprisonment of such people may not be very productive as the offenders are mixed with dangerous criminals. Big time offenders who may teach them other things worse that what they have committed (Nagin 631).

Psychology experts have pointed that solitary confinement of non-violent or young petty offenders could lead to the development and psychological problems among them. This also affects their ability to rehabilitate in the prison setting. The solitary confinement is also characterized with mental health problems. During these times, the offenders would think of self-harm or commit suicide. The society stands to lose when its people are who can be rehabilitated are subjected to conditions that could drive them to commit suicide.


The non-violent offenders are monitored closely by their supervisors during probation.The higher-risk offenders would be monitored more closely than others regarded as of lesser risk. The higher risk offenders may be subjected to curfews or regular drug tests. The lower risk may be required to only report to their supervisors or probation officers once every month (Phelps 51). Close monitoring helps individuals who are addicted to various harmful substances in controlling their craving. Supervision could also provide treatment to the individuals who are addicted to substance abuse and train them how to get by without relying on the substances

Supervision of the petty and non-violent offenders ensures that the members of the public are protected hence it reduces the potential risk of the offender committing a crime in the future. Mental health treatment could also be initiated during this period to enable the offenders to get back to their full functioning.

The offenders are allowed to maintain their jobs while on probation. This enables the member to continue providing for their families as well as contributing towards the societal development. The probation program does not interrupt the individual’s life as compared to the case of imprisonment system. Incarceration makes a person to forfeit everything they do in their normal lives and be locked up for a period of time(Nagin 647). The individuals do not contribute towards the development of the society yet the government would be spending on them. The stability of the individuals helps the government to correct their risky behaviors at the same time as the individual continues contributing positively to the economy.

Fresh Beginning

The first-time offenders who find themselves in probation programs have high chances of having their criminal record erased after probation (Phelps 57). In most cases, the offender would still be expected to file a motion to have their criminal records obliterated with the court. However, each state has its own ways of dealing with various types of case. Expunging their criminal records motivate the individuals to avoid repeating the criminal offense which may have them back into the program or even worse, have them thrown into prison.

The idea of erasing their criminal records is to protect the offenders from future references which may harm their job search and employment. The records could also affect the offenders should they want to join colleges in future. The probation programs have class sessions which include education on drug counseling, victim awareness and cognitive restructuring which provides the offenders with meaningful education as well as opportunities for a fresh start. The programs improve the safety of the members of the public as well as preventing offenders from repeating the offenses. Petty offenders are given an opportunity to build their lives a fresh and avoid the mistakes which led to their probation


If the US decides to use probation instead of imprisonment to punish non-violent crimes, more benefits would be realized. The society would become safer and the government would save a lot of money which can be directed to other important function. The taxpayers would also be exempted from heavy taxes aimed at financing the expanding prison systems. Probation is more effective in correcting petty offenders as their behaviors could still be easily corrected as compared to violent offenders serving maximum jail terms. The society stands to gain much from the utilization of the money saved through the increased adoption of probation instead of incarceration.



Works Cited

Henrichson, Christian, and Ruth Delaney. “The price of prisons: What incarceration costs taxpayers.” Fed. Sent’g Rep. 25 (2012): 68.

Lipsey, Mark W., Nana A. Landenberger, and Sandra J. Wilson. “Effects of cognitive-behavioral programs for criminal offenders.” Campbell systematic reviews 6.1 (2007): 27.

Nagin, Daniel S., et al. “Public preferences for rehabilitation versus incarceration of juvenile offenders: Evidence from a contingent valuation survey.” Criminology & Public Policy 5.4 (2006): 627-651.

Phelps, Michelle S. “The paradox of probation: Community supervision in the age of mass incarceration.” Law & policy 35.1-2 (2013): 51-80.