The transition to prison can have negative long term effects that increase rather than decrease the chances of future crime, even for those with only a short sentence: not least of which can be leaving a job.
On release, then, a person finds themselves without work (and often without accommodation). Where it may only have been a dalliance before, the financial pressures imposed by a return from prison often exacerbates criminal tendencies.
Home detention avoids much of this process while keeping families together, something that is most often desirable for partners and young children.
Furthermore, being deprived of your ability to leave your property – to do even simple things like go grocery shopping or drop in on a friend – is a punishment. With random visits, drug and alcohol testing and an ankle bracelet, it’s hard to have any anything other than a meagre existence on home detention.
One thing that we keep coming back to in the conversation about prison is the cost. Prison is often compared to a university of crime, except that real university is a lot cheaper. It costs around $100,000 to keep a person in prison for a year, not to mention the extended costs of rehabilitation, unemployment and (potentially) further crime once they’re released. On the other hand, the costs are less than a quarter of that for home detention, and many of the associated costs are also mitigated. If they can keep their job, offenders on home detention are even able to continue paying taxes.
You can see where we’re going with this. Prison creates its own set of problems, and these problems in turn create more crime. Great efforts are made to close the holes that prison can tear in a person’s life, but these efforts are expensive and often come too late. If a criminal can be given home detention safely, it may not only benefit them, but everybody.
Yes, this might not satisfy those who have been offended against, but there are bigger stakes at play. Not least of which is ensuring there are fewer victims of crime in the future.