Legal Dictionary


Legal Definition of parole


  1. An early release from incarceration in which the prisoner promises to heed certain conditions (usually set by a parole board) and under the supervision of a parole officer. Any violation of those conditions would result in the return of the person to prison.

Derived terms

Definition of parole


    From French, from Late Latin parabola (“speech”)


  • enPR: pə-rōlʹ, IPA: /pəˈroːl/, SAMPA: /pə"ro:l/
  • (UK) IPA: [pə.ˈɹəʊɫ], SAMPA: [p@."r\@U5]
  • (US) IPA: [pə.ˈɹoʊɫ], SAMPA: [p@."r\oU5]
  • Rhymes: -əʊl
  • Hyphenation: pa‧role


parole (plural paroles)

  1. (law) The release of (a prisoner) on the understanding that he/she checks in regularly and obeys the law.
  2. The amount of time a prisoner spends on limited release.
  3. (linguistics) Language in use, as opposed to language as a system.
  4. (US) The permission for foreigner who does not meet the technical requirements for a visa to be allowed to enter the U.S. on humanitarian grounds.


parole (third-person singular simple present paroles, present participle paroling, simple past and past participle paroled)

  1. (transitive) To release (a prisoner) on the understanding that s/he checks in regularly and obeys the law.

Further reading

Parole may have different meanings depending on the field and judiciary system. All of the meanings originated from the French parole (“voice”, “spoken word”). Following its use in late-resurrected Anglo-French chivalric practice, the term became associated with the release of prisoners based on prisoners giving their word of honor to abide by certain restrictions. One proposed reform is that parole bonds be used to encourage defendants not to re-offend. Parole should not be confused with probation, as parole is serving the remainder of a sentence outside of prison, where probation is given instead of a prison sentence and as such, tends to place more rigid obligations upon the individual serving the term.

Criminal justice

In criminal justice systems, parole is the supervised release of a prisoner before the completion of their sentence in prison. This differs from amnesty or commutation of sentence in that parolees are still considered to be serving their sentences, and may be returned to prison if they violate the conditions of their parole. A specific type of parole is medical parole or compassionate release which is the release of prisoners on medical or humanitarian grounds. Conditions of parole often include things such as obeying the law, refraining from drug and alcohol use, avoiding contact with the parolee's victims, obtaining employment, and maintaining required contacts with a parole officer. Some justice systems, such as the United States federal system, place defendants on supervised release after serving their entire prison sentence; this is not the same as parole. In Colorado, parole is an additional punishment after the entire prison sentence is served - it is called 'mandatory parole', per §18-1.3-401(1)(a)(V)(B).

Difference between parole and mandatory supervision

Some states in the US have what is known as "mandatory supervision," whereby an inmate is released prior to the completion of their sentence due to legal technicalities which oblige the offender justice system to free them. In some states such as Texas, inmates are compensated with "good time," which is counted towards time served. For example, if an inmate served five years of a ten year prison term, and also had five years of "good time," they will have completed their sentence "on paper," obliging the state to release them. Where parole is granted or denied at the discretion of a parole board, mandatory supervision does not involve a decision making process: one either qualifies for it or does not. Mandatory supervision tends to involve stipulations that are more lenient than those of parole, and in some cases place no obligations at all on the individual being released.


  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.


1.     lex fori
2.     lex situs
3.     lex causae
4.     conclusive presumption
5.     AORO
6.     landed property
7.     lex domicilii
8.     Miranda warning
9.     lex loci delicti commissi
10.     Clayton's Case