Fundamental Points of Difference Between Parole and Probation !
Although parole, like probation is based on the principle of individualisation of treatment of offenders and both include a programme of guidance and assistance to the delinquents, yet the two differ in many aspects. The fundamental points of difference between parole and probation are noted below:—
(i) As to their historical evolution, the system of probation owes its origin to John Augustus of Boston (U.S.A.) who around 1841, tried to convince the judge of the Magistrate’s Court that certain offenders would respond well to his supervision if committed to his care rather than jailed. The parole, on the other hand, came into existence much later somewhere around 1900.
(ii) A prisoner can be released on parole only after he has already served a part of his sentence in a prison or a similar institution. Thus, it essentially involves an initial committal of offender to a certain period of imprisonment and a conditional release subsequently after serving a part of the sentence. But in case of probation, no sentence is imposed, or if imposed, it is not executed.
This, in other words, means that probation is merely the suspension of sentence and is granted as a substitute for punishment whereas parole is granted to a prisoner when he has already lived in prison or a similar institution for a certain minimum period and has shown propensity for good behaviour.
(iii) As rightly pointed out by Dr. Sutherland, a probationer is considered as if undergoing “treatment” while he is under the threat of being punished if he violates the conditions of probation; but a parolee is considered to be in “custody” undergoing both punishment and treatment while under threat of more severe punishment, i.e., return to the institution from which he has been released.
(iv) Another notable distinction between probation and parole is that former is a judicial function while the latter is essentially quasi-judicial in nature. Probation implies a procedure under which a person found guilty of an offence is released by the court without imprisonment subject to conditions imposed by the court and subject to supervision of the probation staff. In case of parole, a prisoner is released from prison to the community prior to the expiration of his term of sentence subject to conditions imposed by the Parole Board. Thus, the release of a parolee is not the result of a judicial decision.
(v) It has been alluded by J. L. Gillin that probation is probably the first stage of correctional scheme, the parole being the last stage of it.
(vi) Probation and parole also differ from each other from the point of view of stigma or disqualification attached therewith. There is no stigma or disqualification attached to an offender who is released on probation of good conduct, but a prisoner released on parole suffers stigmatisation as a convicted criminal in the society.