Prison time is not the end of a conviction for most people. In most cases, ex-felons need to go through probation or parole before living a law department-free life. But, many people need to know the comparison of probation vs parole.

At present, millions of people in the United States are either on probation or parole. So, here are the differences between the two terms, what they mean, and more.

Probation vs Parole – How Is One Different From Other?

Parole vs probation – These two terms are closely associated. They aren’t the same but have similar implications. For one, probation is part of the sentence, whereas parole is an alternative to jail time based on good behavior.

Parole: Complete Definition 

All prisoners aren’t the same. Hence, parole system is in place. Parole system rewards convicts with improved behavior with early release. But, it’s a complete process where the decision lies with the parole board.

The board will allow an early release if they consider you worthy as per the record.

Eligibility for Parole

Jail and prison are different entities. People who commit felonies go to prison, whereas misdemeanor convictions land offenders in jail. For felons, parole is an option they can try.

For the most part, parole is not a right. Parole board will decide whether a criminal is allowed on parole or not. The decision-maker is not necessarily a judge but still has complete discretion on the result.

Board checks prisoner’s criminal records, the potential risk to society, and behavior in prison before making a decision. Also, parole time comes with a range of conditions or conduct that the parolee must follow. Inability to do so can land the person back in prison.

Some of the conditions can include meeting with a parole officer, not committing any further crimes, and working at a job.

Probation: Complete Definition

During conviction, the sentence can have dedicated time for probation. Some probation sentences have time in jail, but the general association of the term is with time out of jail.

The conditions for people on parole and probation are similar. The requirements also include keeping a distance from specific people like gang members.

Eligibility for Probation

Probation isn’t the decision of any board in particular. Instead, the judge gets to determine if the defendant receives one and the length of the probation. Probation is part of the sentence after a plea bargain or a trial.

Here, the judge will consider several factors before making any decision. For one, they check the seriousness of the crime, criminal records, and other details while concluding.

Also, the conditions of probation can vary in every case. Some might have to do community service during the period.

Probation vs. Parole – Consequences of Violating Conditions of Parole and Probation

In specific cases, parole and probation can be revoked by the body. It happens if the recipient commits a crime while on parole or probation. Moreover, if the ex-felon violates the conditions of the release, they will face the consequences of the same.

In case of allegations of violation, both parolees and probationers can get a hearing. But, if the judge decides that violation occurred, they will be sent back to prison or jail. In some cases, the judge may allow them to stay on release but with added conditions.

The federal system and most states offer counsel for people who cannot afford an attorney.


Parole and probation are similar on several fronts. The significant difference is between the body that decides eligibility and when you get the option. The processes are lengthy and require patience.

Moreover, it is possible to mess up if you do anything that violates the rules set at the time of probation or parole. Hence, it is best to read the conditions carefully and follow all the rules.

On average, a person spends 19 months on probation or parole. It is a long period that requires diligence. Hence, it does good to be mentally prepared for everything.

When comparing probation vs parole, the similarities are more than the differences between the two systems. With rules and conditions upfront and prison time, if you fail to follow the orders, it is crucial to follow the rules.

Passing the period event-free comes with positive adjustments that will help you lead a normal life in the end.

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