Probation vs Parole – Difference and Comparison

What is Probation?

Probation is the legal process that allows a rehabilitation opportunity for non-violent criminals with no previous criminal record. Probation is granted to offenders so that they can avoid imprisonment. In probation, the offender is kept under observation and is allowed to improve his conduct. There are certain requirements to fulfill in the probation. Otherwise, the offender ends up in imprisonment if he does not improve himself on probation.

When a criminal is granted probation, he is not sent to jail. Rather, he is allowed to remain in society. He is being observed by authorities who then assess his every move and act among people. The offender may evade the possibility of being jailed. He works on improving himself and turning into a law-abiding citizen. The first condition for that is to not commit any further crime and maintain a good reputation in the community.

Not every criminal is granted probation because it depends on some factors. The crime should not be so severe as murder or drugs. The court will ask the grantee to pay frequent fines to keep his probation going. In some cases, the offender is demanded to abstain from drinking alcohol or drug use. In some states, such offenders must contribute to community services. They are required to show their improved nature in every possible way.

What is Parole?

In legal terminology, parole means the conditional release of a prisoner from jail. Parole is granted by the parole board after considering the track record of the criminal. Parole involves temporary and, in some cases, permanent release from jail before the actual sentence ends. Behavioral improvement is a prerequisite and the primary condition on which parole is granted to an inmate in prison.

Parole is conditional in its nature and therefore requires an inmate to complete a certain point of the sentence before he becomes eligible to be granted parole. When the inmate is released from prison, a parole officer is assigned the duty to carefully eye the offender. He is responsible for reporting to the higher authorities about the situational improvement of the criminal.

Parole does not promise absolute liberation from the sentence. Rather, it demands the released criminal contribute to the community and report to his concerned parole officer. If he exhibits exemplary ethics and conduct during the parole period, the board considers the possibility of releasing him permanently. On the contrary, if he fails to do so, he is again sent back to prison on charges.

Difference Between Probation and Parole

  1. Probation is avoiding jail, whereas parole is a conditional release from jail.
  2. Probation is granted by the court, whereas parole is granted by the parole board.
  3. In probation, the offender has to report to the probation officer, whereas the criminal reports to the parole officer on parole.
  4. Probation is limited to those yet to be sentenced, whereas parole is granted to sentenced criminals.
  5. Probation is given to violent offenders, whereas parole can be given to violent offenders too.

Comparison Between Probation and Parole

Parameters of ComparisonProbationParole
Legal DefinitionThe supervised period in which an offender is allowed to rehabilitate to avoid jailThe conditional release of a prisoner from jail on terms and conditions
Granting AuthorityHonorable CourtParole Board
Supervising AuthorityProbation OfficerParole Officer
Criminal TypeNon-violent criminals with no previous recordViolent and already sentenced criminals
DurationUsually, for a shorter period of timeFor a specific period of time to permanent