Difference Between Probation and Parole


Main Difference

The main difference between Probation and Parole is that Probation refers to a period before a person sent to prison or jail and Parole refers to the period after a defendant released from prison.

Probation vs. Parole

Probation understood as a punishment imposed by the court in which the criminal offender is not arrested but allowed to remain in the community, on the promise of good behavior, subject to the control of the probation officer. In contrast, parole, or else called as supervised release, is one in which the convict is released from the jail whether temporarily or permanently, before the completion of sentence, subject to good behavior. Probation stops a sentence that may resume if the individual violates the terms and conditions attached whereas Parole generally occurs at the end of a sentence to convert the remaining time into community service or active programs in the community. Probation awarded to those person’s who have no before criminal record so far and also for the crimes that do not include violence. As against, parole is granted to those criminals who are already in jail, and also obtainable to serious offenders, who follow good conduct, during the term of their sentence.


Comparison Chart

Probation is the reprieve of the sentence of an offender and allowing them to stay in the community while instilling good behavior, under the supervision of an officer.Parole asserts the early release of the convict before the expiry of the sentence term, to serve the rest of the portion in the community while ensuring good behavior and subject to specific conditions.
What is it?
Alternative to jailConditional release from prison
Before the imprisonment.After the offender has completed a specific portion of his prison sentence.
Offender Reports to
Probation OfficerParole Officer
Imposed by
CourtParole Board
Allowed to
First-time offenders and violations or crimes that do not involve violence.Criminals that are already under detention.

What is Probation?

Probation is a kind of criminal sentence that is served by an offender instead of a jail sentence. It is a period of supervision of a criminal offender by a corrections officer, usually in the form of a probation officer. A probation officer is a person who oversees probation and parole and helps the offender with other adjustments in returning to the community after imprisonment. Probation typically granted at the discretion of the judge overseeing the case. Frequently, probation granted in non-violent crimes. Moreover, probation is likely to be granted when there is a first-time offense.


  • The offender cannot commit any other crimes while on probation.
  • The offender will attend a work rehabilitation program.
  • The offender will attend a drug or alcohol rehabilitation program if necessary.
  • The offender will obtain gainful employment.
  • The offender will avoid contact with other criminals.
  • The offender will undergo medical or psychiatric treatment if necessary.
  • The offender will avoid excessive usage of alcohol, drugs, or controlled substances.
  • The offender will submit to drug testing.
  • The offender will routinely report to a probation officer.
  • The offender will reside in a certain geographic location.
  • The offender will comply with court orders.

What is Parole?

Parole enables convicted offenders to be conditionally released from prison to serve the remaining time of their punishment in the community. The accord of parole may be either discretionary by the vote of a state-appointed prison parole board, or mandatory. Parole is not an alternative sentence. Rather, parole is a privilege granted to some prisoners after they have served a percentage of their punishment or sentences. Parolees are needed to comply with terms and conditions whereas living in the community or face being returned to prison.


  • Declaration to a state-appointed supervisory parole officer.
  • Keeping a job and a place of residence.
  • Not leaving a specific geographic area without permission.
  • Avoiding criminal activity and contact with victims.
  • Passing random drug and alcohol tests.
  • Assisting drug and alcohol counseling classes.
  • Avoiding contact with known criminals.

Key Differences

  1. Probation relates to the sentence given to the criminals, in which they stay out of prison, under the supervision of an officer and following the rules set out by the court. Parole referred to the before time release of the prisoner, on the condition that the prisoner or inmate will be under the control of the authority and detention will be resumed upon the non-compliance of conditions specified.
  2. The court decides the probation of an accused or suspect. Unlike, the parole board decides the parole of a prisoner.
  3. The probation granted to the accused before incarceration, i.e., in spite of directly sending the indicated to the jail, they give a chance to rehabilitate themselves, using this process. On the other side, parole is allowed after the offender has completed a specified portion of their sentence term in prison.
  4. Probation is given by the judge instead of the imprisonment, while parole is nothing but a form of conditional release from the prison.
  5. A person who granted probation reported to the probation officer. However, failure in reporting to the relevant authority may lead to re-sentencing to jail, for a particular period. Conversely, the criminal or offender under parole has to report to the parole officer, but in case if the indicated defaults in reporting without reasonable cause, the offender is sent back to the jail based on the original sentence.


For the measure, probation, and parole split many same intents but are not the same way as probation is for those criminals or offenders who do not have any past criminal record. While parole is for those convicts, who are serving detention due to a serious crime committed by them, but pursues good behavior and follows the rules of jail properly. So, for that, they are awarded parole.