Recent work suggests that offenders rate several alternatives as more severe than imprisonment. We build on this literature by comparing punishment exchange rates generated by criminal court judges with rates generated by offenders and their supervising officers. Findings reveal that none of the three groups rates prison as the most severe sanction and judges and officers rate alternatives as significantly less severe than offenders. Offenders are generally willing to serve less of each alternative to avoid imprisonment than judges or officers. Serving correctional sanctions thus appears to reduce the perceived severity of imprisonment and increase the perceived severity of alternatives.
May, David; Moore, Nathan T.; and Wood, Peter B., "Offenders, Judges, and Officers Rate the Relative Severity of Alternative Sanctions Compared to Prison" (2008). Safety, Security and Emergency Management Faculty and Staff Scholarship. 5.