An intermediate sanction is best defined as "offender control programs that fall somewhere between probation and imprisonment." An intermediate sanction is a diversion program that allows the offender to remain in the community to be punished and receive services. The offender must comply with all the court conditions. Every state utilizes some type of intermediate sanctions for their offender caseload.
Intermediate sanctions have become a popular choice in the recent decade for dealing with offenders. Over crowded prisons, financial hardships within the states budget and the increasing need for sentencing alternatives are the reasons for increased utilization of intermediate sanctions rather then imprisonment.
Probation departments have utilized a wide assortment of sanctions. They range in severity from fines to weekends in jail or boot camps. The most widely used sanctions are electronic monitoring, house arrest, community service, day or evening reporting, fines, intensive supervision, weekends or nights in local jail to a more severe punishment of being sent to boot camps.
This sentencing alternative allows an increased level of surveillance and control of the offender. Society tends to be more willing to accept these offenders into their communities. These sanctions were developed to allow more community based services and treatments to be utilized by the offender, however some of the programs were developed to take a tougher approach on some offenders.
The most utilized intermediate sanction is intensive supervision; this type of supervision is sometimes viewed as an alternative to incarceration because these offenders would be otherwise incarcerated without this alternative.
Early uses of intensive supervision utilized the approach that with smaller caseloads a probation officer would be able to increase client contact and this in turn would result in a decrease in recidivism.