Two alternatives to incarceration in jail or prison are parole and probation. Although these words are often mixed up, each of them has clear differences. The difference between parole and probation include the timing of each sentence and the types of conditions placed on the defendants. What is probation? How does it differ from parole? How can you or your loved one get help if they are arrested? Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Probation?
Probation is a court ordered supervision that stands as an alternative to time in jail or prison. It allows individuals to resume their normal lives under certain conditions, which are supervised by the county probation department. These rules must be followed, or the probation will be removed. In this case, the person will need to go to court and can be sentenced to jail or prison. The court will determine what length of time they will need to spend behind bars.
Conditions of Probation
It is important to note that just because someone is out on probation, it does not mean they are completely free. They may be subject to many of the same conditions as jail, including rules about curfew, requirements to participate in rehabilitation programs, and frequent drug (through urine) testing. A defendant may also need to pay a fine, court costs, attorney fees, or more.
Probation length can range from one year to ten years, but most states will cap the length of time. Probation officers manage this time and will monitor the defendant’s progress and report to the judge. They will be the ultimate advisor as to whether the defendant should stay on probation or return to jail if they fail to abide by their conditions.
What Is Parole?
Parole is overseen by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and is another form of supervision. It is intended for individuals who have been convicted of a third-degree felony or higher and who were sentenced to prison. Depending on certain factors during the offender’s sentence, they may become eligible for parole. The parole board can grant them parole, which is a release from prison under certain conditions. The conditions for parole are set by the board, not the court, and Texas parole board employees perform the supervision.
If conditions of parole are violated, the offender will be sent back to prison and will need to serve the rest of their time there. The length of time they spend in prison will depend on how much credit they have remaining toward the end of their sentence.
Conditions of Parole
The defendant must follow the state and federal laws and any specific conditions set by the parole board. While on parole in Texas, the defendant may need find employment and maintain a steady job, continue with the education they began while in prison, report any change of address to the parole officer, avoid contact or use of drugs and firearms or deadly weapons, avoid communication with others on parole or in a correctional facility, perform routine drug tests, and more.
If the defendant is found to have violated any of the conditions of their parole agreement they will be brought before the board. The board will then decide on the appropriate consequences for his/her actions, which may include returning them to prison to finish their sentence. They do not have the option of a jury trial.
Probation and Parole Differences
Although the goals or functions of parole and probation are similar, each process has its own requirements. Both focus on providing a level of freedom to the defendant, and both have conditions that must be followed to help them succeed and stay out of trouble. But the main difference is that probation is often given instead of jail or prison, while parole is an early release from prison.
Parole has the added function of helping the defendant reintegrate into society. For example, a sex offender who completed most of their prison sentence can be released early on parole. They are encouraged to find work, socialize, and enjoy the freedom of life on the outside, but will still need to follow their (often strict) parole conditions, such as avoiding public areas where children frequent, or staying away from certain relatives. The defendant may be less tempted to reoffend because the parole system includes unexpected, warrantless searches, frequent drug/urine tests, and other types of inspections without probable cause.
How PCS Bail Bonds Can Help You
If you or someone you know has been arrested, bail bond services are available to help you stay out of jail until your trail date. Jail can be a scary place, and if this is your first offense, you may be wondering what to expect and what your rights are. PCS Bail Bonds is ready to help you.
As a division of Professional Court Services, we have a combined total of over 50 years of courthouse experience. We provide 24-hour bail bonds for all kinds of charges, and we can help you get collateral if you cannot afford your bond. Plus, we offer 10% lower bond fees than our competitors, and our experienced agents can help you obtain a bond in a fraction of the time.
We have professional memberships in several renowned associations including the Professional Bondsmen of Texas, Professional Bondsmen of Tarrant County, and Tarrant County Bar Association. We can help you if you live in Fort Worth, Texas, and other municipalities in Tarrant County. We will process your request quickly and efficiently. Our bond agents are always on call and we can be down to the jail in under 30 minutes.