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Most Progressive Alternative: Community Service by Offenders

NCJ Number
Date Published
5 pages
This analysis of the philosophy and use of community service orders in Great Britain concludes that efforts to clarify the goals and use of these orders would be more useful than imposing inflexible national standards.
The use of the community service order has grown markedly in Great Britain as well as elsewhere in Europe in recent years. Its appeal rests on its combination of elements of punishment and reparation. However, it is not clear whether it is usually being used as a substitute for imprisonment or whether it is often used as a sentence in its own right, especially as an alternative to a fine for an unemployed defendant. In addition, the current effort to establish national standards may result in the imposition of bureaucratic, inflexible, and negative standards that devalue local initiative and celebrate centrally controlled mediocrity. Instead, establishing a two-tier system of orders, using community service orders to replace prison sentences of 6 months or less, and ensuring that community service orders constitute a positive experience for the offenders and the community should all receive consideration.