Some offenders need to be put in prison. Others can be managed safely on probation in the community. But judges and prosecutors often face the difficult task of figuring out what to do with defendants who don't fit cleanly into either group.
When the right choice isn't clear, many court officers say they feel compelled to send offenders to prison because of a lack of confidence or capacity in their community corrections programs. If these programs had sufficient resources, and were better designed and managed, the courts would use them more. Since strong community corrections programs have been shown to cut recidivism, this would create safer communities while saving states millions of dollars in unnecessary prison expenses.