What does "out on Parole" Mean?

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  • Written By: Tara Barnett
  • Edited By: Jacob Harkins
  • Last Modified Date: 24 February 2020
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When someone is out on parole, then he or she has been incarcerated and has gained release prior to his or her maximum sentence. People who are released on parole are subject to obedience to the conditions of the parole, and may not be considered truly free. In many cases, parolees are subject to unannounced inspections of a home or apartment by authorities, and so being on parole might be considered akin to living in a state of reduced citizenship.

The exact conditions of parole vary depending on national and local laws, and may including personalized conditions. Some locations do not have the option of parole, and in these places constraints are usually not placed on individuals after leaving prison.

In many locations in the United States, a person may get out on parole for good behavior, although this alone is usually not enough to guarantee that parole will be granted. Having a job, demonstrating personal improvement, and having a place to live can all help a person get paroled. Once the parole board or other granting authority has approved the inmate's request, the parolee must then usually meet with a parole officer. This officer's job is to ensure that the conditions of the offender's parole are being obeyed, and to provide guidance in rehabilitation.


Conditions for parole can vary widely, but almost always involve staying away from former victims, staying within a prescribed area, and adhering to a strict curfew. When a person is out on parole, it is usually required that he or she abstain from illegal substances and sometimes alcohol. It may also be required that the parolee stay employed, attend mandatory counseling, or attend medical appointments.

Some sentences for crimes may involve permanent loss of certain rights beyond the parole period. While parole is being served, the parolee may be required to voluntarily submit to search and seizure without cause or a warrant by any officer of the law or parole officer. Many locations require sex offenders to register with certain agencies upon attaining parole, and often they must register for life.

It can be difficult for some people to meet the conditions of parole. Being out on parole in the same area in which the original crime was committed can constitute an enormous temptation. Additionally, it can be difficult to find employment or housing with a criminal record. Many parole officers recognize these difficulties and help parolees satisfy parole requirements. While parole may constitute a loss of freedom for many, staying out of trouble while out on parole can often be the first step to staying out of jail for good.


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Post 4

@Ruggercat -- I do believe there are exceptions made for immediate family members. The law is flexible to a certain degree and that is typically one of them. The fear is always that the parolee might slip back into old habits and that happens far too often. The best way for a parolee to keep out of trouble is to visit with his or her probation officer if there is a concern and ask -- communications are key to keeping on the good side of the law in these instances.

Post 3
@Cageybird, I can see your point if the only reason a parolee was in the company of a known criminal was professional or familial. If I were out on parole, I might still want to visit my older brother, who just happens to have a criminal record. I'm not looking for trouble myself, but I'm with someone who might be. I can't control what other people decide to do.

But if I'm hanging out with my old criminal crowd because my new life on parole isn't as exciting, then I guess I'd have to face the consequences if one of them does something illegal and I'm in the passenger seat.

Post 2
I think if I were given an opportunity to be out on parole, I'd stay as far away from my old neighborhood as possible. There would just be too many chances for me to do something stupid and get sent right back to prison. I understand a lot of parolees have families to support or legitimate jobs to do, but I'd still want to live somewhere else and just be in town for work.

I've seen too many of those reality police shows where the passenger of a speeding car turns out to be on parole. Even if he had little to do with the chase or the car theft, he could still be held on a parole violation. To me, that would be a hard life to live, always being suspected of a crime by association.

Post 1

What is truly sad is how often people on parole can't keep from going back to prison. They'll sometimes fall back into their old criminal habits, hang out with their old friends who engage in prohibited behavior (and talk the parolee into joining in the fun), etc.

Getting put on parole is only half the battle. The other half for a parolee is to stay out of trouble and avoid going back to prison.

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