‘Parole’ is the conditional release of a prisoner who has not served a full sentence. Parole is granted for a variety of reasons, including good behaviour by a prisoner and to reduce the numbers in overcrowded prisons. People on parole are called parolees and are assigned to a parole officer upon their release.
Parole officers must be in contact with parolees periodically to ensure the terms of the release are being followed. By aiding, guiding and supervising parolees, parole officers play an important role in protecting society from crime. They reduce the chances that parolees will break the law again and return to prison. Parole regulations for specific prisoners may differ and usually depend on the type of crime and the sentence given. Particularly serious and heinous crimes may be excluded from the parole system. Parole decisions are made by parole boards or other oversight committees. Prisoners who successfully complete drug or alcohol rehabilitation programmes or show other signs that they will lead a productive, crime-free life, are considered good candidates for parole.
Parole officers’ work starts when a parolee becomes eligible for parole. They will have to write a report on the prisoner that will be submitted to the parole board. This includes information regarding family background, life-style before entering prison, skills, personality, job prospects and the particular crime for which the prisoner was incarcerated.
Parole officers may help the prisoner prepare for the parole hearing. If released, the prisoner will be assigned to a parole officer who will explain the legal conditions to the parolee. Besides having to refrain from any criminal activity, common parole conditions include avoiding drug and alcohol abuse, not possessing a gun,and doing community service. Besides providing counselling, support an advice, the parole officer will assist the parolee in finding a job and housing. Records are kept of all the parolees’ activities and in some places, the parole officer is charged with arresting a parolee who is violating the agreement.
Parole officers mainly work in an office environment,, and travel to parolees’ homes, places of work etc. They use telephones, fax machines, copiers, cellular phones, computers, files, records and stationery.