Comparison Between Probation and Parole

Comparison Between Probation and Parole

Probation and parole are two devices of correctional justice. Through these systems, offenders are offered opportunities to realize their mistakes and rectify themselves. The ultimate purpose of both devices is to rehabilitate the offenders. A comparative study of probation and parole will reveal their differences from each other.

Historical Origin

The system of probation owes its origin to John Augustus of Boston. He convinced the court that offenders would be released under his custody rather than committing them to jail. From 1841 onwards, he saved more than two thousand individuals from the rigors of incarceration.

The system of parole originated from military law and the practice of pardon. Later on, parole systematically emerged in the UK and USA to reduce pressure on prisons.

Granting and Serving of Sentence

Parole is granted only when any prisoner has served a part of his/her sentence. Initially, a prisoner is committed to a prison or similar institution, and he or she is granted conditional release under the system of parole.

But in the case of probation, either no sentence is imposed, or if imposed, it remains suspended.

Probation is, therefore, a suspension of the sentence for the time being when he or she is put under the supervision of a probation officer.

Parole, on the contrary, is granted to a prisoner when he has completed one-third of his sentence and has already exhibited good behavior and has shown signs that he or she will abide by the terms and conditions of parole.

Treatment and Punishment

If we want to reflect the concept of probation correctly, a probationer has undergone treatment while he is scared to be returned to prison in case of a violation of the conditions of probation. On the other hand, the parolee has undergone both punishment and treatment.

He or she is under the threat of being brought back to prison if he or she does not conform to the conditions of parole.

Difference Regarding Nature

The granting of probation is vested in the judiciary, while a quasi-judicial body like the Parole Board grants parole. A court may enlarge a convicted person on probation without committing him or her to prison on condition of good behavior.

A probation officer supervises the activity of a probationer.

Before completing the full terms of the sentence, a prisoner is released according to the decision of a Parole Board. Here, parole is different from probation as a quasi-judicial body grants it, but a court grants probation.

Difference Regarding Hierarchy

J. L. Gillin has rightly pointed out that probation is possibly the first stage of the correctional scheme, whereas parole may be considered as the last stage of it.

Difference Regarding Imposition of Stigmata

Probation and parole differ from each other regarding the imposition of stigmata on the convicts. Under probation, a convict is released before attaching any stigmata, whereas a parolee has already been stigmatized when he has committed to prison.

A probationer can easily adjust with society, while the public may not easily accept a parolee, as prison life has put stigmata on him or her.