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Parole and Probation Are Not the Same Thing

Many people use the term parole and probation interchangeably but they are in fact very different. Here is a summary of what makes them different.


Probation is when a less severe sentence is handed down that makes serving time possible without having to actually be detained. In this case, a defendant is allowed to stay out of jail just as long as they follow certain rules such as passing all drug tests, following up with check-ins and staying out of any further trouble. Probation is usually only offered to first-time offenders and a judge makes the ruling.


Parole, on the other hand, is granted after a certain period of time has been served. This tends to be a reward for good behavior while being detained. Once one is out on parol, the circumstances are very similar to that of being on probation where one has to pass a drug test and consistently check-in, unlike with probation where a judge will rule on if probation is granted, parole is decided by a board who holds a hearing with the inmate to see if they are eligible and the action is appropriate.

Overall, the main difference between parole and probation is one requires no jail time while the other is granted for good behavior during time served.

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