If someone has committed a non-violent offense then they should be able to do volunteer work instead of having to do jail time. It is too expensive to fill our jails up with these type of offenders and the volunteer work that they will do outside of jail could provide a valuable resource for the community.
I think that, depending on the crime, convicts should be able to atone for their crimes by doing volunteer work. The prison system is very crowded and filled with people who are not a danger to themselves or anyone else. They could be assigned to volunteer work that is related to their crime so that they can have a change in perspective.
I believe that if your crime was non violent and did not harm another individual physically you should be able to do community service as opposed to serving jail time, when you jail someone society ends up paying for that person during his stay in jail while if that person did community service the community as a whole is improved.
Plus, the ones who have been in prison for a long time, and have learned the errors of their ways, It would not only save the taxpayer a lot of money, but also might be very profitable for the country in the long run. It would be teaching the convicts skills that they could use to find work when they are done serving their time.
I think that convicts should have to do both jail time and volunteer work. Volunteer work is just that, it's volunteering one's time. There shouldn't be program where a criminal can use it instead of serving time in jail. I think it would send the wrong message if people would be allowed to participate in such programs.