The question above is complicated, since there is still a large debate on this topic. There are more than one answers to this question in my opinion, and it largely depends on the situation or crime. Restitution on the other hand means: the restoration of something lost or stolen to it’s proper owner.
There are many kinds of crime, and these crimes are on a hierarchy of how severe the punishment will be to anyone who commits a certain crime. Also the severity of punishments for certain crimes differ depending on the area(this especially goes for the US). But there is one thing for certain, someone has to pay for the upkeep of prisons; and prisons are paid mostly by taxpayers. Actually most definitely paid by taxpayers.
It is rather ironic to think that when a person gets robbed, and the person who robbed them goes to jail, the victim in this situation has to pay for the criminals’ well being in jail. When it comes to prisons there are many cases in which criminals do not learn the consequences of their action, and instead become more of a criminal. This is most likely due to criminals being surrounded by other criminals, who probably committed worse crimes. Also to note there are cases of criminals after finishing their jail sentence who go back to crime.
In my opinion a criminal should have to pay restitution, or work to pay for the wrong he has done. This though only goes for specific situations, or crimes, for example theft. Hence why I believe that restitution to victims is better for society than jail sentences to criminals, in specific situations. For example if a criminal is a mass murderer, in the US(this depends on the area), they most likely will get death row, restitution cannot be paid, obviously.
In conclusion, in my opinion restitution to victims of crime is better for society than jail sentences for criminals in certain scenarios. There are a number of reasons why I believe this, but the main reason being the fact that tax-payers mainly pay for prisons, which means that most likely a victim of crime will be paying for a criminal’s well being. Also criminals in many cases become more criminal after jail, due to being surrounded by other criminals.