What Is Parole?

Watch any crime or legal drama on TV, and you are likely to hear the word “parole.” Many people have a vague idea of what it means, but they aren’t quite sure of the specifics.

When a person is sentenced to prison, they are given a set amount of time behind bars. In certain cases, the court may allow the person to get out early if they satisfy a number of conditions. Not everyone has the option to get paroled early, and some people initially qualify for parole but do not meet the requirements necessary to obtain an early release when they go before the parole board.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, there were more than 4 million adults under parole supervision in 2013, which accounts for one in 51 adults in the country.

The Ins and Outs of Parole

When a person is granted parole by a parole board, they are released back into society, where they are free to live and work again. This privilege is not without conditions, however. Parole is governed by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, which sets very specific guidelines. Depending on the case and the conditions of the parole, the person may have to complete certain rehabilitation programs or perform community service. They must also comply with any ordered drug or mental health testing, and they must usually appear for regular meetings with their parole officer. In short, they must reintegrate back into society, where they are expected to hold down a job and refrain from engaging in any kind of criminal activity. Most of the time, they are also restricted from leaving the state or a certain part of it.

Far from automatic, parole is only granted after an individual has satisfied certain conditions. For some crimes, a person must serve a minimum amount of time before they are deemed eligible to go before the parole board. In some cases, individuals can also become eligible for parole more quickly with good behavior during their incarceration. Just because a person becomes eligible, however, does not mean the parole board must grant parole.

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