Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Dr. Chris E. Marshall


This study compares the effectiveness of two alternative sentences: work release and electronic monitoring/house arrest. These programs are measured with regard to three traditional goals of punishment: retribution, deterrence, and rehabilitation, and three modern goals of alternative sentences: cost reduction, reduction in overcrowding, and reduction in recidivism. The study consists of three phases; all are retrospective examinations of data collected from June 1995 to December 1997. The first phase is a cost analysis of the programs, the second phase is a retrospective statistical analysis of program failure and recidivism based on information gathered on 230 participants, and the third phase is a series of participant interviews. Phase 1 of the study finds that in Sarpy County both work release and house arrest had a substantial cost savings over the study period when including the number of jail days saved. Phase II of the study concludes that neither program was more effective at reducing recidivism over the 18 month follow-up period, but participants on work release were more likely to be removed for rule violations. Whether participants were employed was a statistically significant variable for recidivism and program failure for work release. This suggests that individuals without secure and stable employment are more likely to fail while on work release and are more likely to commit further crime. The final phase of the study shows participants found both programs punishing, but house arrest less so than work release and both less than conventional incarceration.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Criminal Justice and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts in Criminal Justice University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Mark K. Trapp May, 1999