What Are Intermediate Sanctions?

Intermediate sanctions are criminal punishments that are more severe than ordinary probation or suspended sentences but less severe than imprisonment. Intermediate sanctions are useful for keeping nonviolent offenders in the community where they can continue working and living a relatively normal life. Because these programs require such strict behavior modification, some criminals prefer prison.

The most common forms of intermediate sanctions are electronic monitoring and intensive supervision, sometimes in a halfway house. Other intermediate sanctions include fines, payment of restitution to victims, substance abuse or mental health treatments and boot camps. By having a wide range of different sanctions available, the probation officer can increase or decrease the level of punishment severity, depending on the convict’s response to correction. In worst-case scenarios, the officer can even go to the judge and request incarceration.

Intermediate sanctions provide a number of advantages. These programs are cheaper than incarceration, and they can require the convict to pay part of the costs, such as the cost of substance abuse treatment. Convicts can continue working and caring for their families, but they are still held accountable and have their freedom restricted. Prison space for violent criminals is freed up by keeping nonviolent and first-time offenders in the community. In addition, first-time and juvenile offenders are kept out of the prison environment, a place that can make hardened criminals out of vulnerable inmates.