A 60-year-old woman has become the first person in Staffordshire to be given the choice of spending either weekends or weekdays in prison under a Home Office pilot scheme.
The project - which is being tried in 11 counties including Staffordshire - enables a convicted person to have a choice instead of spending a lengthy time behind bars.
Thelma Lloyd, of Dolly Lane, Burslem, Stoke-on-Trent, appeared before Judge John Shand at Stafford Crown Court for sentence on 26 charges of theft and false accounting.
She opted for 150 days jail to be completed over 60 weekends at Morton Hall Prison, Lincoln - one of only two prisons taking part in the trial scheme. The judge told her: "The offences were a breach of trust and clearly merited a custodial sentence."
Under the scheme, offenders can spend either weekends or weekdays in prison and the rest of the week in the community under the supervision of a probation officer.
They are expected to spend their free time either working, looking for a job, or doing unpaid community work.
If their behaviour is not up to scratch they may be sent to jail full-time. This new type of sentencing is aimed at offenders who have committed crimes which normally warrant a prison sentence but are not at a high enough risk to justify immediate, full-time custody. Criminal justice campaigners have warned that this sentencing must only be used as an alternative to jail and not as a replacement for a community penalty.