Release of prisoners on parole is a reformative and rehabilitative measure which seeks to protect society and assist the prisoner in re-adjusting himself to a normal free-life in the community. Parole is an individualized method of treatment of offenders who respond favourably to the disciplined life inside the prison.
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Prof. Gillin defines parole as “the release from a penal or reformative institution, of an offender who remains under the control of correctional authorities, in an attempt to find out whether he is fit to live in the free society without supervision.”
According to Donald Taft, “Parole is a release from prison after part of the sentence has been served, the prisoner still remaining in custody and under stated conditions until discharged and liable to return to the institution for violation of any of these conditions.” Thus, parole is a release method which retains the same control over prisoners, yet permits them more normal social relationships in the community and provides constructive aid at the time they most need it.
Parole is one of the correctional schemes. The life in a prison is so rigid and restrictive that it hardly offers any opportunity for the offender to rehabilitate himself. In suitable cases, the inmates of a prison should be released under proper supervision from the prison institution after serving a part of their sentence. This may serve a useful purpose for their rehabilitation in the society as a normal law abiding citizen.
Sir Robert Cross says that parole is the release of very long term prisoner from a penal or correctional institution after he has served a part of his sentence under the continuous custody of the State and under conditions that permit his incarceration in the event of misbehaviour.
Prof. Sutherland considers parole as the liberation of an inmate from prison or a correctional institution on condition that his original penalty shall revive if those conditions of liberation are violated. The conditional release from prison under parole may begin any time after the inmate has completed at least one-third of the total term of his sentence but before his final discharge.
Parole enables the prisoner a free social life yet retaining some effective control over him. Release on parole is a wing of the reformative process and is expected to provide opportunity to the prisoner to transform himself into useful citizen.
All fixed term sentences of imprisonment above 18 months are subject to release on licence. Parole is an act of grace and not as a matter of right and the convict prisoner may be released on condition that he abides the promise. It is a provisional release from confinement but is deemed to be a part of the imprisonment. The release on parole does not change the status of the prisoner.
The object of parole:
Parole is a penal device which seeks to humanise prison system. The objects of parole are:
(1) To enable the inmate to maintain continuity with his family life and deal with family matters;
(2) To save the inmates from the evil effects of continuous prison life;
(3) To enable the inmate to retain self-confidence and active interest in life.
The Indian law provides for parole only in cases of serious offenders who are committed to long-term sentences.