Parole pertains to the release of the prisoner from imprisonment prior to serving the full sentence. This is usually granted for good behavior, and is subject to the condition that the prisoner abides by certain specified rules during the balance of sentence. Probation, on the other hand, is a criminal sentence imposed by the court, which releases the convicted individual into the community instead of sending him or her to prison, subject to stated conditions (Black's Law Dictionary, 2004). In both cases, the person has been convicted of a crime. Both are also considered community corrections. However, while probation is considered an alternative to incarceration, parole is the early release of the prisoner from a penal institution.
Probation and parole are two different forms of supervision after conviction. The supervision in parole commences after the convict is released from jail or prison after he or she has served a part of the sentence. Parole is not a right, but a mere privilege. States in the United States have parole boards that decide whether or not an individual should be released once he is eligible for parole. In case of violation, the individual may be ordered to be returned to the penal establishment in order to finish the original sentence (Lawyers.com).
Those who are on parole should remain crime-free and abide by the rules and conditions set by the parole board. Parole violations include non-compliance with the supervision conditions such as attending parole officer meetings, and fulfilling community service requirement. States have varying rules on parole. South Carolina, for example, gives the parole board the discretion to determine the length or incarceration, and when the parole violator will be sent back to prison. Other states, on the other hand, have specific rules on parole. In Louisiana, the incarceration is set to 90 days for first technical violation of the parole. The state of California also has guidelines defining the length of time the offender may be revoked to prison. Incarceration therein is limited to 12 months, extendible in case of subsequent acts of misconduct (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2008).
Probation, as aforesaid, is an alternative to incarceration. A judge may choose to impose the imposable sentence or grant a probation. There are also conditions attached to probation. And like parole, an individual may be ordered to serve the sentence originally given him or her in case he or she violates any term in the probation (Lawyers.com).
Some of the requirements in probation may include attending probation officer meetings, performing community service, and notifying the probation officer of any change in living arrangements. In addition to these, the offender must not commit a subsequent crime. There are state laws that specifically provide for the time when the violator should be sent back to prison. In Georgia, those who violated the conditions of probation may be incarcerated for the remainder or remaining balance of the sentence or for not more than two years, whichever of the two is less. There are statutes that limit the incarceration as to certain violations like in Vermont where incarceration may be imposed only when community safety is in jeopardy or when the offender is in need of treatment that will be effectively provided if he or she is incarcerated. There are also states that provide specific imposable sanctions short of revocation and return to jail. These may include community service, electronic surveillance, home detention, fines, substance abuse treatment, or increased monitoring (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2008).