Parole is a supervised release from prison that individuals may be eligible for under certain circumstances. If the parolee fails to meet all the required conditions, they may need to return to finish their sentence. If you’re on parole, it’s important to understand how this works and to ensure you don’t commit any violations that could require you to return to prison.

What is Parole?

Parole is a conditional release from incarceration where an inmate is under community supervision instead of being in a prison. There are specific terms of release for parole, if a parolee violates these, parole can be revoked, leading to a return to prison. Parole is different from an absolute discharge, which is the end of a sentence and means no further supervision is required. If a parolee complies with all terms of release until the end of their sentence, they get an absolute discharge. Absolute discharge also occurs if a person serves their entire sentence in prison.

Who Is Eligible?

Whether or not a prisoner is eligible for parole depends on the terms of the sentence. In most cases, a certain portion of time must be served in prison before there is a possibility of parole. A parole board determines whether a prisoner can be released under these conditions, and this is based on a variety of factors. Some things the board will consider include behavior while incarcerated, whether the person shows remorse, and the likelihood of re-offense.

Parole vs Probation

Parole and probation both involve supervision outside of prison and severe penalties for violating the conditions. The difference is that parole only becomes an option after serving a portion of the sentence in prison, whereas probation suspends a prison sentence. Probationers serve little, if any, time in prison.

Common Terms of Parole

The specific terms of parole for an individual will depend on the criminal offense they were convicted of, among other factors. Some common terms require the parolee to: Not commit any other crimes Report regularly to a parole officer Perform community service, also called community restitution Submit to and pass drug tests regularly Complete court-ordered treatment plans, which may include counseling for drug and alcohol abuse or other courses Comply with any applicable restraining orders Avoid certain individuals who are known criminal associates Pay restitution to the victim There is also often a fee associated with parole, which must be paid. Breaking any of these terms can result in a return to prison or other penalties.

Types of Parole in Arizona

There are four types of parole in Arizona:

Regular Parole

This is the supervised release of an inmate who has completed one-half, two-thirds, or the mandatory minimum of their sentence, depending on the crime and other circumstances.

Emergency Parole

This is the release of non-dangerous, first-time offenders to help relieve the overcrowding of jails/prisons.

Commutation of Sentence

This type of parole is granted through the Board of Executive Clemency and the Arizona State Governor. It is not the same thing as a pardon and does not remove criminal charges, but it can reduce the prison sentence.

Absolute Discharge

As discussed previously in this article, absolute discharge is the end of an inmate’s sentence. It is not technically a type of “parole” since it is an unsupervised release.

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