In theory it makes a certain amount of sense. If it appears that the
accused is not a career criminal and can be rehabilitated,
rehabilitation is better than incarceration. All too often
incarceration does nothing to aid in rehabilitation.
The question is whether, in practice, it will actually work. I haven't
seen any studies on this (but I haven't been looking for them either),
so I don't know the answer to that. But if done properly, it could