7+ Difference Between Probation and Parole (Meaning, FAQs)

Difference between Probation and Parole

When people talk about the legal system, they use the words “parole” and “probation.”

They both have rules and freedom, but they happen at different times.

It’s not jail time; you have to follow some rules, and you won’t have to go to jail.

When you get parole, on the other hand, you get to leave jail early, but you still have to follow strict rules until the end of your term.

So, probation means following rules to stay out of jail, and parole means following rules to get out of jail early.

The article below compares and contrasts Probation with Parole. But that only happens after it finishes explaining what the two words mean.

What is Parole?

Parole may become an option after serving a portion of a prison term.

Stories of people having their sentences reduced for good behaviour or getting out of jail early on Parole are familiar.

These instances represent a person’s desire to alter behaviour, avoid negative influences, and rejoin society so that they aim to contribute positively to it.

When inmates’ total time served in jail plus any good behaviour credits earned equal to or exceeded their total sentence, they are placed under mandatory supervision.

What is Probation?

Probation is a typical kind of judicial punishment for offenders of certain offences.

Individuals on probation are permitted to remain in the community under the supervision of a probation officer.

However, it is essential to note that in most parts of the world, probation is not used, and straight incarceration or confinement is the norm for certain crimes.

Probation might be an attractive option for some defendants when presented in court.

Community service, therapeutic interventions, restitution for damages, regular reporting to probation officers, and restrictions on certain activities are some possible terms of Probation.

Probationers, like parolees, must complete their sentences but will do so in a less restrictive setting than prison.

Probationers are expected to follow the rules, attend counseling sessions, refrain from criminal activity, and complete other requirements imposed by the court.

When a probationer fails to meet the requirements of their release from supervision, they have violated their Probation. They may face additional supervision, fines, or even jail time.

How does Parole differ from Probation?

Probation may be imposed as an alternative to incarceration or as a supplementary arrangement in addition to a prison sentence by the presiding judge during the trial.

During Probation, the judge specifies specific requirements that must be met.

However, Parole is granted when a person has served a particular portion of their term and has been evaluated by a parole board.

When deciding whether or not to grant an early release, the parole board considers the offender’s jail behavior and the depth of their rehabilitation.

During their time on Parole, the parole board might limit their behavior.

Difference Between Probation and Parole (Extensive)

DefinitionA court-ordered period of supervision as an alternative to incarceration.A conditional release from prison before the end of the maximum sentence.
Granted ByJudge (as part of a judicial process).Parole Board or a similar authority.
TimingOften given at sentencing as an alternative to jail or prison time.After serving part, but not all, of a prison sentence.
PurposeAllows the offender to live in the community, aiming for rehabilitation.Aims to reintegrate offenders into society after serving time in prison.
ConditionsMust follow certain conditions set by the court (e.g., attending counseling).Must follow conditions set by the parole board (e.g., meeting with a parole officer).
Violation ConsequencesTypically, it results in more restrictive conditions or incarceration.Usually leads to re-incarceration or stricter parole conditions.
DurationSet by a judge and can vary based on the crime and jurisdiction.Typically linked to the remainder of the prison sentence being served outside of confinement.

While both probation and parole involve conditional freedom and supervision, they arise from different stages of the criminal justice process and have different implications.

Probation is an alternative to incarceration, while parole is a conditional release after some incarceration.

Both aim to ensure public safety while offering a chance for the offender’s rehabilitation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Differences between Probation and Parole

Is there Parole in the UK?

Yes, there is a parole in the UK. In England and Wales, this process is coordinated by the Parole Board.

Are you allowed to tie the knot with a prisoner in the UK?

Yes, you are lawfully allowed to marry someone serving a prison term in the UK. Nevertheless, the process is much more complicated than the average out-of-prison wedding.

How long does Parole last in the US?

Parole lasts for just five years in the US.

What is the way to get out of jail before the expiry of your term?

You can leave jail very early if you receive a compassionate release, which is only approved in circumstances that could not judiciously have been foretold by the court when the sentence was passed.


Probation and Parole, even though they sound very similar, are distinct legal concepts.

Probation primarily relates to first-time offenders lacking a prior criminal record.

At the same time, Parole often applies to individuals who have served time for grave offences that demonstrate good behavior in jail.

Parole facilitates early release from confinement as a reward for compliance. To avoid experiencing them, avoid committing any crime and remain a law-abiding citizen.

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