Difference Between Probation and Parole

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Probation and Parole

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Probation and parole are two different aspects of law where the culprits need not stay in prison. Rather, they can move and live around like any other person. But the rules of probation and parole are quite different from each other. They are assigned to different people. Probation means the person need not go to prison. However, parole means the person needs to stay in prison for a certain period to be eligible for parole.

Probation vs. Parole

Probation means detention outside the prison. On probation, prisoners get released after imposing some rules on them. Prisoners need to report to the probation or peace officer biweekly or quarterly. Then, they need to follow a few sets of rules. They might get prohibited from taking alcohol or drugs. Also, if the case is severe, different types of prohibiting rules are imposed on the criminal. The cost of breaking the probation rule is quite bitter.

Parole means when prisoners have completed a certain period in prison. It is given at the end of the detention and for a specific interval. Prisoners may or may not need to go back to jail after completing the parole period. The court imposes a set of rules on prisoners. They need to report to the parole officer regularly during the parole period. And, the law should be maintained strictly.

Difference between probation and parole in tabular form

Parameters of comparison Probation Parole
Definition Detention of the culprit outside the prison or no detention at all Early release of prisoners after completing a certain period in prison
Period Complete period of detention A part of the detention period
Officer appointed Probation or peace officer Parole officer
Imposed by The court Parole board
Works as Alternative to prison Conditional release from prison
Detention period No Different for different countries

What is probation?

Probation means a criminal is kept under supervision for the time interval of sentence without going inside prison. The criminal must report to the probation officer regularly for a specified interval. It is an alternative to going to jail after committing a crime. The criminal stays outside like any other person.

A criminal is allowed to remain outside the prison during the sentence. However, some rules and regulations are applied to prisoners. The probationer has to follow these rules. In case, any probationer is found not following the rules set by the court or a probation officer, he may be sentenced to prison or severe detention.


Probation was started in the United States of America around the 19th century. It was in practice since an earlier period but unofficially. It was started officially in 1841 for the first time in the Boston police court. Later, it reached the supreme court of America. Only after, it was legalized by passing the law National probation Act of 1925. Now, it is available in almost every state of America.

Along with probation, there is a rule for probation officers as well. More than 35 states of America have rules for probation officers. It is compulsory in a few states and optional in others. A probation officer is also known as a peace officer popularly.


The rule for probation is of different types depending on the crime committed by the probationer.


It is the severest type of probation. The probationer stays under home detention, GPS monitoring, and computer management. They stay under surveillance 24 x 7. The intensive probation is for those who are higher-ranking gang members, VIP criminals, suspects, etc. The probationer is allowed to move under restricted places. Unannounced checking, satellite surveillance, workplace visits, or electronic monitoring are entertained in these cases. Apart from this, home detention and GPS monitoring are the most common things in intensive probation. Sometimes, the probationer is fitted with a chip so that he can be tracked anytime by the officials.


In standard probation, a probationer must report to the probation or peace officer weekly or quarterly. Certain provisions are imposed on the person that he has to follow. He may be restricted from consuming alcohol or drug. There is no rule for home detention and GPS surveillance. However, in case of violation of restrictions imposed by the court, the probationer may have to face detention.


No supervision is required in this case. Even, the probationer does not need to report to the probation officer. A probation officer may or may not get appointed for the probationer whom he needs to visit at the end of the probation period or not. The probationer may need to complete community service and pay the bills in court for the first six months of the detention period of one year. For the next six months, he can move by himself. He is allowed to go to their workplace, educational institution, parks, public places, etc. After completing the term, the probation officer may or may not revoke the probation period.


Informal probation applies to those probationers who are accused of guilt but have not been proved guilty. The hearing might be going on in court. In informal probation, the probationer is tested like any other probation rule. For example, he has to go through drug and alcohol tests. But he is not considered a criminal. The case is typically dismissed at the end.


Shock probation is a rare kind of probation where the sentencing judge reconsiders their judgment. Recall the convicts from prison and set them on probation. It is considered that the prison environment may shock the prisoners. Thus, they are allowed to leave in the community for a short period. This probation cannot be given for more than 80 to 120 days.


In case a probationer violates the law set by the probation officer or court. Then, the probationer would have to appear in front of the court. The defendant needs to submit evidence that the probationer has violated the law. Then, the court will start the hearing to find out if the probationer has committed the crime or not.

If the probationer is found guilty, the penalties are decided depending on the severity of the crime committed by the probationer. Then, the criminal history of the probationer is checked. And, then the court issues penalties to the probationer.

What is parole?

Parole is different from probation. In it, a prisoner needs to spend a specific period in prison. After then, the prisoner can apply for parole.

Parole means a prisoner can be allowed to go outside the prison if it promises to maintain some rules and regulations. It can be for a specific period depending on the demand. During this period, the prison needs to report continuously to the appointed parole officer. In case of not following the rules, the prisoner will be sent back to prison again. Parole cannot be said to be a part of probation, pardon, amnesty, or commutation of sentence.


The beginning of parole went back to the 1840s. A Scottish geographer named Alexander Maconochie was appointed as a captain in the Royal Navy. He is known to introduce the system of parole. He made a plan to grade the prisoner. Based on this grade, a prisoner can be allowed to go outside before the sentence period.

This plan was divided into three levels. Points were given based on good behavior and bad behavior. Good points will increase the overall marks while bad points will decrease the marks. Good marks will help the prisoner to get parole after a certain period.

The prison will be allowed to go outside for a certain period. He/she needs to report to their parole officer during this interval. If the prisoner violates any rule during this period, he/she will be condemned to prison again.

During that time, this concept was known as the ticket of leave. This was later named parole.

Different countries have different rules for parole. For example,

In Canada, a prisoner can avail of full parole after completing one-third of the sentence. Day parole to test the behavior of the prisoner outside is the minimum requirement to apply for full parole.

A prisoner who is sentenced to less than 2 years is kept in a correctional facility in the province. While other prisoners who are sentenced to more than two years are kept under a federal correctional facility and are allowed to meet the parole board of Canada.

In China, there is no concept of parole. However, they do give parole based on the ground of medical conditions. It is an unpopular method to get parole. The prisoners are allowed based on the fact that they cannot get the required medical facility in the prison.

Many people are sent outside the country for better health facilities. However, they are sent on the ground that they will be arrested again once they are back in China.

In Israel, prisoners were allowed to take parole only after completing two-thirds of their sentence. But this rule was changed in 2001. A bill was passed stating that prisoners are allowed to take after completing half of their sentence. The main aim of reducing this period was to reduce the crowd in the prison.

Parole or Liberta condizionata in Italian. In Italy, there is a rule named Liberta condizionata that states a prisoner can be allowed parole only when he/she has completed 36 months in prison and has less than half the total, or the quarter, or five years sentence still left.

In New Zealand, there are two different sets of rules. Prisoners who are sentenced to less than two years are given parole automatically after completing half of their sentence. But the prisoners who are sentenced to more than two years have to face the parole board. the judge has the power to increase the non-parole period up to two-thirds. The non-parole period of lifetime prisoners is more than 10 years.

Parole has created an impact on society. Reports have shown that parole is one of the most effective ways to increase the tendency to new meet people in prisoners and correlate with them. It helps the prisoners to start a new life after coming out of prison.

Difference between probation and parole in points

Probation is a system where the criminal need not go to prison. It needs to report to a probation officer regularly. However, parole is an early release from detention.

  • Probation is given for the whole period of detention. However, parole is allowed only after completing a fixed interval in prison.
  • On probation, the probationer needs to regularly report to the probation officer. While on parole, the prisoner needs to report to the parole officer.
  • The probation period is imposed by the court. The court decides at the time of the hearing whether a person should go on probation or not. The type of probation is also decided by the court. However, parole is given by the parole board. It decides based on credit achieved by the prisoner in prison whether he should be given parole or not.
  • There is no detention period on probation. It means the criminal need not spend even a single day in prison. However, there is a fixed time interval in parole that should be spent in prison. This interval is different for different countries.


Probation is given for the whole sentence period. It works as an alternative to detention in prison. Depending on the severity of the crime, probationers are given different types of probation. For example, some probation involves regular visits to the probation officer while others need not visit a probation officer.

Parole is different from probation. In parole, the prisoner needs to spend a certain interval of time in prison. Only then he will be eligible to get parole. The parole period is different in different countries. For example, in some countries, parole is granted after completing one-third of the total detention period while in other countries, the prisoner needs to complete at least half of the detention period to get the parole.




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"Difference Between Probation and Parole." Diffzy.com, 2024. Tue. 16 Apr. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-probation-and-parole-80>.

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