What Is Parole?
Many times, when you hear the word parole, it is in conjunction with probation. But these two legal terms do not mean the same thing.
Probation refers to letting a convicted criminal remain in the community instead of going to jail at all. Their probation will have specific terms and rules they must follow. This can include being home at a specific time, only going to certain places, and calling their probation officer.
Parole, however, deals with the release of an offender after serving part of his or her sentence. Someone on parole is, essentially, getting out of jail or prison early.
When someone is released from prison on parole, they are released before serving the entire sentence given at trial. In most cases, the time spent on parole is supervised.
A parole board decides to release someone on parole, or it is done per statute. For example, the charge an offender is convicted of may require mandatory release or parole.
A parolee can have several types of supervision statuses, such as:
- Active status: This means that the offender must check in with a parole officer
- Inactive status: This means they don’t have to report to a parole officer. This might be because they have met all the conditions of parole before their parole sentence is done.
Other statuses may apply to those who have active warrants, have fled the area, or still need to pay restitution or fines.
Offenders must also meet certain conditions while on parole. These can include:
- Having an acceptable home plan
- Having a job
- Not drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs
- Not having contact with other felons
- Not leaving the state without permission
If an offender on parole violates these conditions or commits another crime, then he or she can be charged with a parole violation. The penalty for such a charge could be a return to jail or prison.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were almost 874,800 people on parole at the end of 2016, which is the last year data is available. That total is an increase of around 4,300 offenders from the prior year.
The number of parolees who were returned to prison was about 11,575 people.
Are you are on parole or accused of a violation? It is essential to understand the nature of the violation and all the possible penalties. An experienced, local attorney can help you develop a defense strategy and advise you of your options.
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