What Is Parole? - Definition, Violations & History

Instructor: Jessica Schubert

Jessica is a practicing attorney and has taught law and has a J.D. and LL.M.

In this lesson, you will learn what constitutes parole. You will examine the definition, review the consequences of committing a parole violation and also learn the history of parole in the United States.


Put simply, parole is when a convict is released from prison but hasn't served the entire sentenced term. The convict is known as the parolee. Parole is granted only when a parole board reviews the case and determines that the prisoner has a history of good behavior while in prison and represents no further threat to the community. A parole board is a group of individuals that review a prisoner's history while he or she has been incarcerated.

Once parole is granted, the parolee promises to remain in a certain region and follow a release plan. Under the release plan, the parolee must obtain gainful employment. In addition, the parolee must report to a parole officer during the duration of parole. A parole officer is an individual who supervises the parolee's release and rehabilitation. The parole officer also helps with financial issues, social issues, personal problems, and more. In the event that a parolee fails to follow the strict release instructions, the parolee will be sent back to prison.


In the event that a parolee does not follow release instructions, the parolee will incur significant problems. Initially, the parole officer will report the violation to the parole board for a review. The parole board will make a determination based upon all of the circumstances of the situation. While the parole board has the power to permit continued parole, the board can also determine that the parolee must return to prison for the remainder of his or her prison term.

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