Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Parole Definition:

A conditional release from incarceration during which a prisoner promises to heed certain conditions (usually set by a parole board) and submit to the supervision of a parole officer.

Related Terms: Probation, Pardon

Any violation of those conditions would result in the return of the person to prison.

In Roach v Board of Pardons and Paroles of Arkansas, the United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit wrote:

"Parole is a supervised release from incarceration prior to the termination of sentence. Conversely, the denial of parole has the effect of perpetuating the status quo, i. e., continued incarceration during the term of sentence....

"A parole board is an independent statutory agency delegated broad discretionary powers in parole eligibility determinations. In making such determinations, the parole board may properly consider the length and seriousness of an inmate's prior criminal record. Prior criminal convictions are one of many factors a parole board should consider in its review to determine whether a prospective parolee will remain at liberty without violating the law, and whether such release will be compatible with the welfare of society."

prisonIn Bricker v Michigan Parole Board, Justice Joiner of the United States District Court (Michigan) added:

"The essence of parole is release from prison, before the completion of sentence, on the condition that the prisoner abide by certain rules during the balance of the sentence.... (C)onditions of parole restrict a prisoner's activities substantially beyond the ordinary restrictions imposed by law on the average citizen; thus, a prisoner on parole could be restricted to a particular community, job, or home at the direction of his parole officer.

"The parole system is a part of the state correctional system in that parole is a form of custody whereby the prisoner leaves his place of incarceration while remaining in the legal custody and control of the Board of Parole until termination of his sentence.... (T)he release of prisoners on parole has become an integral part of the penological system.."

The now repealed Parole Act of Canada had this definition:

"Parole means the authority granted under this Act to an inmate to be at large during his term of imprisonment and includes day parole."

The Canada Parole Board, circa 2011, offers this:

"Parole is a carefully constructed bridge between incarceration and return to the community. It is a conditional release, which allows some offenders to continue to serve the balance of their sentence outside of the institution. Parole does not mean that offenders are completely free, without supervision. It does mean that they have an opportunity, under the supervision and assistance of a parole officer, to become contributing members of society, providing they abide by the conditions of their release. If the conditions of parole are not met, the Board has the power to revoke the parole and return the offender to prison. The decision to grant or deny parole involves a thorough review of information and assessment of risk. The safety of the public is always the paramount consideration in all parole decisions."

French: libération conditionnelle.


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