What's The Alternative?

With prison populations -- and prison costs -- inexorably rising, states are experimenting with ways to punish criminals without punishing taxpayers. As alternatives to high-cost imprisonment, at least 40 states now offer "intermediate sanctions." Most are forms of closely supervised probation available only to nonviolent offenders. Some allow probationers to hold jobs while they serve time in dormitory-style halfway houses where they are subject to tight curfews and periodic drug and alcohol tests. Others keep tabs on them at home through frequent visits from probation officers or through electronic ! shackles that signal authorities when the wearer attempts to go out.

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