TABLE 4-1 Alternatives to Incarceration That May Be Available to Offenders



Bail supervision programs

While awaiting trial, the accused, rather than being held in custody, is supervised by a member of the community.

Alternative measures programs

The offender is diverted from the criminal justice system before or after being charged. The offender enters into a kind of contractual agreement to answer for the crime. The agreement can include community service work, personal service to the victim, charitable donation, counseling, or any other reasonable task or condition.

Restitution programs

The offender must pay back the victim for damages or loss.

Community service order

A condition on a probation order, or a separate disposition in the case of young offenders, that requires the offender to perform work in the community.


The offender is supervised in the community and follows the set of conditions (rules) set out in the probation order. Conditions of probation include keeping the peace, good behavior, obeying the law, and reporting regularly to a probation officer and may include a range of other, optional conditions.

Intensive supervision probation

An alternative to incarceration in the United States similar to probation but which involves more frequent surveillance and greater controls.

Electronic monitoring

Offenders are fitted with an anklet or bracelet that transmits signals of their whereabouts to the correctional officer, allowing offenders to continue with employment or education commitments in the community.


A period of conditional community supervision after a prison term. If the conditions of supervision are violated, the parolee can be returned to prison to serve any of the remaining portion of the sentence.

  • Discretionary parole exists when a parole board has authority to conditionally release prisoners based on a statutory or administrative determination of eligibility.

  • Mandatory parole generally occurs in jurisdictions using determinate sentencing statutes in which inmates are conditionally released from prison after serving a specified portion of their original sentence minus any good time earned.

SOURCE: Adapted from John Howard Society of Alberta, 1998.

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