The legal mechanisms that are probation and parole are the alternative measures put in place as opposed to incarceration as provided in law. Probation is the period that a defendant has before they are imprisoned while parole is the time that bridges incarceration and the subsequent release from prison. However, the probationary period takes place before and most of the time instead of imprisonment or incarceration. Parole can simply be termed as having one’s prison sentence cut short. Probation and parole require the parties involved, or the defendants, to adhere to certain guidelines and rules that are put in place to ensure that either the conditions of parole or conditions of probation are not violated. During such a time, a defendant may be subject to warrantless searches even without there necessarily being a reason.
Probation is a time that puts an individual’s life and actions under the spotlight of the law or judicial authorities. When a defendant is under probation, the judge gives the individual an opportunity or a chance to show that they are willing to undergo some form of rehabilitation instead of out rightly giving a verdict and ultimately imprisoning them (Lofquist, 1993). In such an instance, the party may be placed on probation with a suspension of their sentence declared, or the judge might give a guilty verdict and suspend their sentence while they are on probation so that if the defendant violates probation, they will then serve their sentence. However, if the defendant meets all the requirements or conditions of their parole, then they will not have to serve their prison sentence.
Probation can also be revoked by the judge or by the appropriate judicial authorities. This can happen in the event that the conditions previously set and agreed upon by the defendant are violated. This can happen where the defendant either breaks another law or even that which he is currently serving probation for. For instance, if a defendant is barred from visiting certain places then he or she still does so, then they have violated a condition of their probation and thus their probation might be revoked.
Parole is an opportunity provided in law as a sign of goodwill that enables a prisoner to get early release from prison in the event that they show the willingness or capability to live in peace with other law abiding citizens in society. This might include good behavior whilst serving a jail term or showing unique and positive leadership roles in prison. The parole board might thus decide to show similar courtesy by offering parole in which case the defendant can be allowed to cut short their prison sentence and served their parole term with the rest of the society as long as they abide by their conditions of parole. The parole can also be revoked in the event that the parolee violates their parole by acting contrary to the conditions hitherto agreed upon (Stevens, 1999).
Probationers might be subject to jail-like conditions even though they are not in prison. This means that they may at times be required to follow curfew rules, participate in rehabilitation programs and undergoing frequent drug tests along with random searches. A probationer may also be held liable to pay fines, court costs, and restitution along with any other fees demanded from them. The amount of time that one might be on probation is also at the discretion of the court. If a probationer fails to live up to the terms of their probation, then the judge can order a capias which requires a defendant to appear in court for final sentencing.
Parolees on the other hand may be required to stay at a nearby residence within a certain area and at times pay fines.
Differences and Similarities
Under both probation and parole the conditions therein must in a way relate to the rehabilitation or underlying offence. Both probation and parole must thus have a rehabilitation component attached to them. Another similarity they share is that they both intend to protect the community or society from any individuals who might pose a threat to them.
Parole and probation also share some differences. Parole, for instance, is intended to provide a mechanism in which the defendant can be reintegrated into society while probation just seeks to correct that offense that the defendant committed. While a probationer is usually subject to the jurisdiction of the court a parolee is under the authority of the parole board. Another difference is that a probationer communicates to a probation officer while a parolee discloses his or her account to a parole officer.
The revocation of parole bears a huge significance to both the offender and the community as far as the violations therein are concerned (Champion, 2007). To the offender, it means that they will have to go back to prison to serve the remainder of their term or even serve more time depending on the magnitude of their parole violation. To the community, it might mean a much-awaited relief if the defendant posed a threat to them or loss to the community if they were better off living amongst the society.
- Champion, D.J. (2007). Cram101 Textbook Outlines to Accompany Probation, Parole, and Community Corrections, Champion, 4Th Edition. 1st ed. Academic Internet Publishers.
- Lofquist, W. S. (1993). Organizational Probation and the U.S. Sentencing Commission. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 525, (1): 157-169.
- Stevens, D.N. (1999). Off the Mapp: Parole Revocation Hearings and the Fourth Amendment”. The Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology (1973), 89, (3): 1047.