What Is The Difference Between Probation And Parole?

What Is The Difference Between Probation And Parole?

Criminal Justice Journal

What Is The Difference Between Probation And Parole?

What is a difference between sentences of probation versus when an offender is granted parole? 

Both probation and parole are privileges that saves a person from going to prison. They are not considered as “right” of a person.  Probation is granted as a part of sentence that saves convicted person from going to prison. It is usually granted for less violent crimes or for first time criminals. If a person shows good behavior, court can cancel his/her incarceration and a person may stay free with his/her community. Parole is however granted after an offender has spent some time in jail. It is usually an early relief from prison. Instead of court, prison parole board decides the parole of convicted person.

How probation works? 

Probation is usually for less violent crimes or if the person is not proved guilty yet and is granted probation by court in lieu of any prison time or after serving a short period in jail.  Judge specify the time or duration of probation and person will have to follow court orders. Otherwise court has right to cancel probation and give judgement that may lead to incarceration of convicted person.

Conditions of probation 

Court decides whether it will be supervised or non supervised probation depending on seriousness of crime. If a person is granted supervised probation than he/she will have to report regularly to their probation officer and can not leave the state with out permission. They have to be available on phone calls and can be checked and searched if parole officer has a search warrant.
A person has to follow rules and regulations decided by court while giving probation. Some of them can be:
  • Not leaving the premises without permission.
  • Serving community hours.
  • Joining rehabilitation programs
  • Prohibition of using or keeping firearms.
  • Strict restriction on using alcohol and doing drugs(medical prescriptions will be allowed)
  • Psychological  or substance abuse counseling
  • Payment of fines to court and victims of crime.
  • Regular reporting to probation officer.
  • Restrictions of residence (can’t live near school or hospitals)
  • A report will be submitted to judge about probationer to show his performance during probation.

How parole works? 

After serving some time in jail, a person can be granted relief from jail time to serve his/her remaining sentence in community. Parole is either granted by parole board or through federal sentencing guidelines.
Parole is not a substitute of incarceration. It is given as a privilege to person after spending some time in jail. With this also come some conditions.

Conditions of parole

People released on parole are called parolees. Instead of probation officer they will report to parolee officers. Parole is also linked to conditions such as:
  • Reporting regularly to parole officer.
  • Maintaining place of residence and job.
  • Avoiding  contact with suspicious people.
  • Not leaving the premises without permission.
  • Avoiding criminal activities.
  • Passing urine tests for alcohol and drugs.
  • Not using drugs or alcohol
  • Restrictions from meeting already known criminal people.
  • Parole officers may visit parolees unannounced to check if parolees are complying with conditions or not.

Eligibility for parole

People convicted of serious violent crimes like murder, kidnapping or rape are rarely granted paroles. Parole is not granted only on the basis of good behavior during prison time. There are other reasons also that are considered by parole board while giving parole to person. A person’s age, martial and parental status, past history of crimes and mental condition may also be evaluated while deciding to grant parole. Parole board will also consider the severity and circumstances of crime. A person must be willing to maintain residence and job otherwise parole board may not grant parole regardless of other factors.

The fourth amendment 

The fourth amendment in the US constitution protects people from unlawful searches and seizures from law enforcement officers, does not extend to person on probation or parole. A parole or probation officer can search a person any time and if found violating the rules,  probation or parole may be revoked. Along with cancellation of probation or parole, a person may be charged additionally for possessing illegal drugs,  weapons or stolen goods.

Is parole worse than probation? 

Probation is granted before final judgement of case as a part of initial sentence whereas parole is granted as privilege to person by parole board. Parole board may look for person behavior during incarceration and his rehabilitation progress to grant him parole.  A parolee serves some time in jail before getting parole.  Both probation and parole represent ways to live out in society under some supervision.  If person on parole or probation breaks the rules, he/she will be shown way back to prison.

Can a person be on probation and parole at same time? 

Technically yes, a person can be on parole and probation at same time. If person is found guilty of crimes while on probation,  they can be granted parole.  Sometimes people are charged with different cases in different counties and can get probation or parole for them separately.  When a person commit a new crime while on probation, he/she can get incarceration for that.  Both probation and parole can run concurrently as long as court and judges agree to it.

Consequences of violation of probation and parole? 

If a person is found guilty of violating the rules and regulations ordered by court or the parole board, their probation or parole can be revoked. A person may face additional charges for violations. And after revocation, they may have to go to prison again.

Probation and parole statistics overview 

According to US bureau of statistics at the end of 2016, 4.5 million people were on probation or parole. Which means in 2016, 1 out of 55 adults (2% of adults) were on probation/parole.  The basic purpose of parole or probation is to prevent offenders from going to jail but 2.3 million people were reported failed to complete their supervision due to violations of rules and regulations or committing new crimes. Every year 350k people return to jail or prison because of violating rules.
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