Parole is a way of finishing a term of incarceration. Probation is a criminal sentence that must be completed under a set of rules. A person who is given a sentence of probation is also given a prison or jail sentence that will be suspended as long as the individual follow the rules of the probation. This is often allowed for minor crimes, particularly if it is a person’s first brush with the law.
Some of the common rules of probation are that the individual be in regular contact with a probation officer, attend an alcohol or drug abuse program, go to school or work, or attend certain classes, such as driving classes. Once the length of probation has expired, and if the individual has followed the rules, he or she is typically free from probation.
Parole occurs at the end of a period of time spent in prison. After a prisoner has served the amount of time he or she was sentenced to, a parole board decides if the prison is ready to be released from prison on parole. A parole board will look at a variety of factors, including how serious the crime was, any progress the prisoner made while incarcerated, and whether the prison is overcrowded. If the prisoner is paroled, he or she may have to meet certain requirements similar to probation.
If an individual commits a crime or violates a term of the release, either probation or parole can be revoked. If parole is revoked, the individual goes back to prison and serves the remainder of his or her sentence.