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Probation: Probation is a criminal sentence often given to first-time non-violent offenders in most jurisdictions. An individual is placed on probation in lieu of serving their sentence in jail or state prison as long as they abide by all terms and conditions of their probation. Some common conditions and terms of probation are that individuals must conduct themselves as law abiding citizens, they must maintain contact with a probation officer on a daily, weekly, or variable basis, they must go to work or search for work and attend school. Additional conditions can include required attendance at alcohol or narcotic abuse treatment programs, classes on subjects such as anger management, domestic violence, or driving safely. The duration of probation and the required terms are delineated at the offender’s sentencing and once the individual has completed the terms of their probation, they are released from court supervision.
Parole “Community Supervision”: Parole is one way of completing a criminal sentence of a number or range of years in prison. After the minimum required or authorized amount of time has been served, the parole board will decide whether the offender is ready to be released from their incarceration to complete their sentence on parole. Parole boards make their decision after carefully considering the nature and seriousness of the crime committed, the views of the victim(s), any progress that the offender made in prison, the current level of overpopulation of the prison, and whether the offender has a place to stay in the community. If the offender is granted parole, they will have to abide by all of the terms and conditions set forth by the judge or risk finishing the duration of their sentence back in prison. If the offender successfully completes their parole without incident and without breaking any more laws, then their criminal sentence is then discharged.
Probation and parole can be revoked at any time if the offender commits any additional crimes or if they seriously violate any of the conditions of their release. Revocation of probation or parole requires written notice to the offender, an opportunity to call any witnesses, an impartial party to make decisions, and written decision stating the justification for the revocation. If parole is revoked then the parolee will return to prison to serve the remaining portion of their criminal sentence. It is important to understand that probation or parole is a privilege and that they are difficult to get back if they are lost.