Alternative sentencing lets offenders remain in the community, where they can continue to work, take care of their loved ones and make a contribution to society.The role of the family is essential as it provides a feeling of belonging and support, both in practical and emotional ways.

    Incarceration is destructive to families because when one individual serves, their family serves too. For many, the financial and emotional toll of visiting can be too high. Children of incarcerated parents have higher levels of delinquent behavior and involvement in the juvenile justice system. They also have higher levels of depression symptoms and behavior problems. The solutions provided by our program allow individuals to be closer to their families, friends, and communities and work to build these strong bonds rather than lose them.

   Our program prevents family breakdown and this preservation of family bonds can help avert recidivism. The Urban Institute’s studies on reentry found that prisoners with higher levels of family support had higher rates of employment following release, and lower rates of recidivism.

    Alternative sentences help people make amends and by serving the community through volunteering. Restorative justice approaches such as these emphasize repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior in a way that benefits the community. Community service provides an opportunity for the offender to see first-hand the indirect injuries caused by his/her offense.

As a Pennsylvania probation official noted, "Many of today's successful initiatives are those which were created in local communities . . . We cannot fail to realize that the most effective approach is a community-based one to include local governments, school systems, the religious community, etc., in which strategies are shared and programs are rigorously monitored and evaluated."