Intermediate Sanctions: Types, Advantages, and Disadvantages

Allison Nau, Ashley Dugger
  • Author
    Allison Nau

    Allison has taught 5th-12th grade for 10 years. They have a Bachelor's degree in education from University of Phoenix, and is certified to teach in both California and Arizona.

  • Instructor
    Ashley Dugger

    Ashley has a JD degree and is an attorney. She has extensive experience as a prosecutor and legal writer, and she has taught and written various law courses.

What are intermediate sanctions? Learn the definition of intermediate sanctions, the purpose of intermediate sanctions, and how intermediate sanctions are used. Updated: 01/06/2022

Table of Contents


Intermediate Sanctions Definition

Intermediate sanctions are punitive options that do not include jail time or probation. Intermediate sanctions are alternative paths to rehabilitation given to those who are not in jail or on probation, though they are also intended to rehabilitate the convicted offender. Intermediate sanctions are meant to help the offender continue to be part of their community, reduce overcrowding in prisons, and lessen the chance for recidivism. For example, an offender may be sentenced to participate in community service. This allows the offender to make up for his or her crime by helping the community. Intermediate sanctions can also help reduce the number of parolees a given case manager has on their caseload.

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Types of Intermediate Sanctions

There are four main types of intermediate sanctions:

  • Day Fines: Day fines are fees paid by the convicted offender based on the severity of their crime and how much income they earn. These are called day fines because they take into account how much the offender earns per day. For example, someone accused of property crimes may not be required to pay as much as someone fined for assault because the severity of the crime is not as extreme. A teacher's fines may not be as high as a doctor's fines because they make less income. A penalty amount is assigned based on the severity of the crime and then adjusted to the convicted offender's daily income. This keeps the punishment equitable among offenders.

Community service is a common form of intermediate sanction for non-violent offenders.

Community service is a common form of intermediate sanction.

  • Intensive Supervision Programs: Intensive supervision programs serve as an alternative to imprisonment. These strict programs often require the offender to do mandatory community service, pay restitution, work, wear electronic monitoring devices (see below), and be subjected to drug and alcohol tests. The types of responsibilities and privileges are determined for the offender during sentencing.

Electronic monitoring bracelets can be worn (generally on the ankle) to remotely supervise convicted offenders.

An electronic monitoring bracelet is worn on the ankle of a convicted offender.

  • Electronic Monitoring or House Arrest: Electronic monitoring is an intermediate sanction in which an offender is required to wear a bracelet that remotely tracks their location. Electronic monitoring is also called house arrest because oftentimes the offender is unable to leave their residence. Electronic monitoring is often a condition of parole or probation but does not provide much information to those monitoring the device outside of the offender's location.
  • Shock Incarceration (Boot Camp): Shock incarceration, or boot camp, is short-term incarceration that focuses on giving structure to the offender. Much like in the military, offenders participate in drills and strict exercise routines. The regimented, tiring routines are meant to give the offenders a sense of stability, responsibility, and accomplishment. This type of intermediate sanction is generally meant for young, non-violent offenders as an alternative to traditional incarceration.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are intermediate sanctions examples?

Intermediate sanctions are alternative paths to rehabilitation for people who are accused of committing crimes. These steps toward rehabilitation do not include incarceration.

What are the four types of intermediate sanctions?

The four types of intermediate sanctions are day fines, intensive supervision programs, electronic monitoring or house arrest, and shock incarceration or boot camp.

What are intermediate sanctions used for?

Intermediate sanctions can be used to rehabilitate non-violent offenders in cases where incarceration may not be necessary. They can be useful for preventing overcrowding in prisons, overwhelming parole caseloads, and allowing the accused offender to be a part of the community while taking steps toward rehabilitation.

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