One of the questions most often asked is what parole actually means and, looking back over our articles, I realized we have always made the assumption everyone already knew the meaning of the term. So we are going to provide just a basic explanation of the meaning of the term “parole”.
First, many criminal justice systems, especially the federal one and states like Louisiana, do not really have a meaningful parole system. There are occasionally movements to try and change this, but in the federal system if a person is sentenced to five years then they are going to actually do 85% or more of their sentence before they can be considered for release.
Contrast that with a state like Texas, where the time actually served on a five year sentence can be less than six months with credit for time served, good time credit, etc.
What is Parole?
Essentially, parole is a term which means that a person can be released from prison much earlier than their actual sentence would appear to mandate, based on a variety of other factors.
In our other posts, we discussed a variety of ways in which the amount of actual time spent incarcerated can be minimized and I would suggest spending time reading through those articles on our website which are highlighted in the box below.
Restrictions for Parolees
If parole means a person has to actually do less time in prison than their sentence is for, are they free to do as they please once released from the prison?
Unfortunately, no. When a person is “granted parole” and released from prison, they are still not 100% free. For the remainder of their sentence they will be required to meet with their parole officer, usually at a local parole office, periodically, and they have a lists of “Do and Don’ts” (known as the Terms and Conditions of Parole) which they must follow if they want to remain out of prison. They will also have to pay a monthly “supervision fee” as well as pay toward any restitution which was ordered by the court.
While failing to follow a point on the list of Terms and Conditions of Parole can result in immediate revocation, if it is a single occasion and does not involve a crime, usually the parole officer will not try to revoke the person’s parole. For instance, if the parolee is sick one day and forgets their appointment but then remembers and calls in the next day, it would be unusual for a parole officer to do anything more than just fuss at the parolee. However, if, instead, the parolee fails a number of drugs tests, which are often given every time they have a meeting with the officer, then a revocation can be expected.
Simply put, a parole is a method to release a person early from their prison sentence and yet still keep an eye on them and, hopefully, gradually adjust them to living within the rules of society.
If you have an incarcerated loved one, we suggest you take a look at our book How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet. The book provides easy to follow instructions and forms for creating a Texas parole package.
How to Prepare a Texas Parole Packet is available in ebook format as an instant download or in bundled form with an ebook and a printed book to be sent to an offender in prison or someone at home. Since we are an approved vendor there are no issues receiving our books at any of the Texas jails or prisons.
Watch this video which discusses the basics of parole in Texas and common terminology used in the parole process.