We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Parole?

By Larry Ray Palmer
Updated Jan 28, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

In the field of criminal justice, parole is a term used for the early conditional release of a prisoner from a correctional facility while still serving out a sentence. The terms of the prisoner's release may include specific qualifiers to maintain continued parole eligibility. This is called a parole plan. In some cases, these qualifiers include avoiding alcohol or drugs, remaining in contact with a parole officer, or finding suitable employment. Prisoners released under this program are called parolees.

Parole is sometimes confused with probation or commutation of sentence. Parole differs from probation in that it is an early release from prison, while probation is the strict supervision of a convicted criminal who has not been incarcerated. Commutation of sentence means an individual is considered to have served his or her entire sentence but still has a criminal record.

The early release of inmates from a correctional facility was first conceived by Alexander Maconochie in 1840. As the superintendent of the English penal colonies in Australia, Maconochie was looking for a method to help prisoners prepare for their return to a normal society. He developed a three-tiered system that allowed prisoners to earn their supervised freedom. This freedom was conditional upon the parolee's own behavior, and breaking the terms of release resulted in the individual's return to prison.

Depending upon the local laws and customs, early release may be granted for a number of reasons. A parolee may be granted early release from confinement based on good behavior, humanitarian efforts, or other factors that influence the decision of a parole board. These early release programs also come with a varying amount of supervision as some parolees have very few restrictions while other people are required to meet strict guidelines to maintain their release.

In some countries, this program is used to release a prisoner who needs medical attention that cannot be provided within the confines of a prison. This type of release program is sometimes called compassionate release or medical parole. This type of early release program is also used by some countries to effectively banish political prisoners from a country. In these instances, the stipulations of the parolee's release may state that the prisoner is being granted freedom to seek foreign medical treatment on the condition that they will not return to the country. One example of this method is the Chinese government's release of political dissident, Ngawang Chophel, in 2002 from Chengdu prison.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By kentuckycat — On Oct 04, 2011

@matthewc23 - I think that sometimes the courts decide that yes someone deserves this long a sentence, but they can be released early if they prove that they are rehabilitated.

This is the whole reason for parole, to reward a prisoner that has cured themself. If anything parole is used as a tool to prove that the system of punishing people who commit crime by removing them from society works and that is many instances the prisoner that receives parole has proved that they could re-enter society and they no longer need to be punished.

Some people do not see the point in administering a sentence if it is not carried out but it is a re-assurance that the system works and those who worry about someone being released early just have to realize that if someone is not ready to re-enter society, then they will not be paroled and will serve out their full sentence.

By matthewc23 — On Oct 03, 2011

I think that some people have a negative perception of how parole is carried out due to various reasons. I have always noticed that people that are unsatisfied with a sentence administered to someone point out that their sentence will not matter at all because they will be out a lot sooner due to parole.

Although the parole system has a lot of checkpoints to make sure that mistakes are not made there are some legitimate questions that come about in regards to how long someone is sentenced and whether letting them out significantly early due to parole fits the crime.

By Mae82 — On Oct 02, 2011

@letshearit - I think that the parole system works really well. We can't just toss people in prison forever because there simply isn't enough room to accommodate all of the criminals that we have in our society. I agree that sentences should be harsher for murders and those that have violated others, but I think that when considering harsher sentences, we have to start looking at the death penalty.

There has always been a lot of controversy over whether parole or not is a good idea, and whether good behavior in prison is really an ideal indicator of whether or not a person is ready to return to society. I think that only our judges and law enforcement can answer that.

By letshearit — On Oct 02, 2011

There are so many parole violations that I wonder if the whole system should undergo a bit of an overhaul. I think that our justice system needs to be a lot more strict, and that if you have committed a serious crime, such as murder or sexual assault for example, that you're stuck in prison, or under house arrest for life.

I don't understand why we give people so many chances to get things right, when most of society has enough of a moral conscious and fear of the system to not do things that are against the law. Does anyone think that the parole system as it is, works well?

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.